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County Employee Unionists Rally in Todos Santos Plaza

They protest push for privatization and Contra Costa County’s bargaining stance.

A group of 25 Contra Costa County union workers marched around Todos Santos Plaza Saturday in a rally in support of their contract negotiations and against attempts locally and nationally to privatize public services.

“Public employees support your communities,” said Cheryll Grover of Martinez, a member of the board of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 2700, in Contra Costa County. “Public employees keep your communities clean. Public employees keep your communities safe … these are not the kind of jobs that can be privatized.”

The unionists expressed their support for public employee colleagues in Wisconsin, which earlier this year was the center of a political firestorm with the attempt to limit collective bargaining rights. “What happened in Wisconsin was only three months from happening here,” said Grover.

The rally was led by AFSCME and Local 1 of the Public Employees Union, with solidarity appearances from other unions and the Central Labor Council of Contra Costa County. The marchers chanted “We are one!” and “Ho ho, Hey hey, Wall Street has got to pay!”

Grover said the unions were taking their message “to the streets” about the unfairness of the county’s bargaining stance for a contract that expires at the end of this month. County negotiators have sought a 6 percent pay cut that, combined with benefit reductions sought, would mean county employees would lose 12 to 23 percent of their income, Grover said.

“For people making $28,000 to $45,000, that puts us into a poverty scenario,” she said.

In the last year, county employees have had 14 unpaid furlough days, Grover said. The salary cut sought by management would save the county a similar amount of money while staff would be back at work on those 14 days.

County representatives have publicly stressed pension reform in this round of negotiations with county employees.

County representatives have set an objective to meet the county’s budget needs, and have said publicly they want labor to make concessions, according to the most recent account (June 16) of bargaining updates on the website of the Public Employees Union.

The current contract with AFSCME Local 2700 is available here.

The unionists received support from two Concord city councilmembers who spoke to the Saturday rally at Todos Santos Plaza.

“I am gratified by your dedication to the working class,” said Councilmember Ron Leone, who remembered that his father had once led a postal strike.

Councilmember Tim Grayson said he came from a union family in Indianapolis. “It’s time for the working class to stand up for the right to be heard,” he said.

WENDY LACK June 27, 2011 at 04:26 AM
Let's hope that County negotiators are also working to eliminate inefficient union work rules, such as limitations on use of volunteers. This has long been a problem in public schools, our county library system and other public agencies: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2635409/posts It's time to excise county union work rules that are contrary to the public interest and inhibit efficient and economical business operations.
WENDY LACK July 01, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Employee benefits cost-sharing = Budget-relieving elixir: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/06/union-curbs-rescue-wisconsin-school-district
Cheryll July 02, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Wendy,your past employment for Admin in HR is showing..but your comments are also just like all the far right insults are.The ranting about privitizing of govt jobs is the most frightening of all your insults.Govt jobs give people jobs that support communties and thier health, safety, quality of living, child protective services, senior services against abuse, health services for poor and indigent, parks services, police services, teachers, on & on. If you make us POORER there will just be more of us needing those public assistance programs you want to cut.Now imagine turning over your police services to a private security company-who many times employ people with criminal records. At a time when the poorest in our communties have just become significantly poorer because they are expected to pay for thier public education, or because the cost of college just went up by 80%, or that public scholarship programs were cut, and , oh yeah, no more Head Start. All those things you think the public is clammoring to loose. Now also imagine that corporations have proven one or two things to the rest of us. They don't want to pay thier fair share of taxes and they pay thier adminsitrator/ceo's billions in bonuses. If you DO PRIVITIZE these items, the TAXPAYER will still pay, but instead of paying an employee who cares about thier job and is working towards a SMALL retirement, they will pay for both the job to be done PLUS the BILLION $ $ bonuses to Admin.
Cheryll July 02, 2011 at 12:24 AM
And with the Right's insistence on deregulations along with NO taxes for these entities, you will have NO oversight/control unlike the auditing and accountability that we as employees and as departements are constantly under such scrutiny to the taxpaying public and the government agencies who do these audits. OH yeah.WE ARE TAXPAYERS TOO, and we don't like to see abuse in government spending any more than the next guy. The difference is, we happen to know that it isn't the REGULAR employee (@ $28,000- $45,000) and we union workers-who barely scratch out a living that is costing so much. We are the best value in town and get 11% less than our privitized counterparts. And we are required to have educations and degrees that privated companies do not. And you will never know the cost of those employees or the bonuses paid to their ceo's because...get ready for it...they DONT HAVE TO TELL YOU. Budget cuts-MUST be made at ONLY the top. The people UNDER the top are the ones who have already lost thier homes as a result of Wall Street gone wild. We are single family earners now and RARELY double income families. 68% of our workers are women and 68% of those are are SINGLE family earners -most trying to raise children alone. ANd taking away Head Start and school lunches from those women impacts them in ways of severe poverty that you have never had to know and will cost us much more on the tail end with kids who end up clogging our jail system.
Cheryll July 02, 2011 at 12:34 AM
And the County Admin.is responsible for the budget and any waste and mismanagement of taxpayer $$$ should never rest on the shoulders of the least well off amoung us. They can look to uncecessary expenses and the highest paid individuals-and dbl payed retirements- and health benefits to those who DO NOT NEED THEM)They need to find those $ in the waste that each one of us could find without turning up too many rocks. Pensions that we EARNED IN LEIU of wage increases/and also PAY for ourselves are not breaking the back of the taxpayer, but a possible eye towards waste (new furniture every couple of years for some departments, moving departments around right after they have completed remodeling projects, etc) would surley be preferable to sending more families into an endless spiral of hopelessness and poverty. Those of you who throw these rocks of hate out indiscriminately are clearly just protecting your own little piece of the pie and can't imagine the promise realized by allowing other families to prosper (besides you own).

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