December 21, 2018

SEIU Local 521

For Immediate Release

Contact: Victor Gamiz, victor.gamiz@seiu521.org

(602) 335-9282

Stanislaus County Workers Vote to Authorize Indefinite Unfair Labor Practice Strike

County workers set January 3rd as strike date; demand that the county return to the bargaining table to continue negotiating.

 

(MODESTO, Calif.,) – After months of working without a contract and attempting to reach an agreement with Stanislaus County that addresses the crisis around access to quality community services facing the community, SEIU 521 members have voted to authorize a strike that is set to begin on January 3, 2019. SEIU 521 has proposed numerous dates to meet right away to continue negotiations, however, the county has refused to return to the table.

In November, hundreds of Stanislaus County workers took part in the first unfair labor practice strike against the County in decades. County workers are advocating for the social services residents depend on.

 

SEIU 521 members are seeking to partner with Stanislaus County to address serious issues like homelessness, mental health, substance abuse prevention, and child and elder abuse. County management, however, has frequently and repeatedly misrepresented the solutions proposed by front-line workers during months of negotiations. During public comments at the December 12th Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting, SEIU 521 members provided clear examples of County management’s attempts to undermine the union’s efforts to improve services to the community by providing the Board of Supervisors a miscalculation of the cost of the union’s proposals.

 

“We believe members of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors when they say they care about homelessness, joblessness, the foster care system, children, and the elderly,” said Kate Selover, Child Support Officer II and Stanislaus County Chapter President of SEIU 521. “However, the Board cannot make good decisions about services and the livelihoods of more than 700 members who work for the County if they are not adequately informed about all the possible solutions.”

 

Stanislaus County workers represented by SEIU 521 voted overwhelming to authorize an indefinite unfair labor practice strike starting Thursday, January 3rd. The workers are striking in protest of the County’s violations of the law, including the County’s intimidation, retaliation and discrimination of members participating in union activity, and attempts to limit access to union representatives.

 

SEIU 521 members include social workers, child support specialists, mental health clinicians, behavioral health specialists, and therapists, community service workers, community psychologists, animal control, veterans’ service providers, librarians and others who are responsible for keeping at-risk children and seniors out of dangerous conditions, assisting the unemployed into jobs, and homeless outreach.

 

“The jobs that we do are difficult even in perfect circumstances, due to the nature of the work. But when conditions are substandard, not only do employees suffer but so do our clients, who happen to be some of the most vulnerable people in Stanislaus County,” said Chelsea Rambo, Mental Health Clinician II. “As professionals, we cannot and ethically should not stand for second- or third-rate services. The County has not been willing to do what needs to be done to provide the care our clients need and deserve.”

 

Until the County begins to address the underfunding of critical services, challenges such as understaffing, high turnover, and fewer employees left doing more work will only proliferate. The breakdown in public service will continue to endanger people in the Stanislaus County community, especially those who depend on vital public services like aging and adult services, behavioral health, public health, and mental health services.

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Service Employees International Union, Local 521 represents public-sector workers in Stanislaus County and across the Central Valley. We are committed to making sure the needs of our community and the vital services we provide come first. We believe our communities thrive when residents, leaders and workers recognize that we are all in this together when it comes to our safety, health, and well-being.