After 5 weeks of voting at worksites throughout the County and the Inland Regional Office, Riverside County members emphatically authorized an escalation up to and including a strike with a 98% yes vote!
Member leaders conducted the final ballot count at the Inland Regional office on Thursday, May 25th with dozens of member volunteers on hand to tally and check ballots from worksites spanning every major Riverside County Department from the desert communities to the City of Riverside.
The escalation authorization is the latest episode in a 10-month long bargaining process marred by Riverside County’s consistently bad-faith effort to negotiate a fair contract with County workers. Since negotiations began, the County of Riverside has racked up four Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges ranging from withholding critical information needed by the SEIU 721 Bargaining Team to denial of workplace access and the surveillance of County Employees participating in a self-defense class outside of the Riverside University Hospital System Regional Medical Center.
While the SEIU Local 721 Bargaining Team negotiates a contract that protects members’ health, secures quality jobs, and lifts up Riverside County communities, the County is hell-bent on bringing down frontline workers and the communities they serve (click to see theirproposal).
The escalation authorization arrives on the heels of Riverside County members, community advocates, and residents increasing the pressure and seeking accountability on the whopping $119 million of taxpayer money wasted on sweetheart consulting deals and a toxic swap deal with Wells Fargo. Since the entering the bad swap deal with Wells Fargo, Riverside County has dolled out $48.9 million in excessive fees and is on the hook for up to $20.5 million more until the deal ends in 2032.
The emphatic 98% in favor of an escalation sends a strong message that frontline workers are fed up with Riverside County’s continued efforts to balance the budget on the backs of workers and residents because County officials’ poor decision making has led to excessive revenue waste.
“Ten months ago we began this journey in high spirits, determined to bolster the quality services residents depend on and focused on cutting the revenue waste that’s s draining millions in taxpayer dollars,” said Riverside University Hospital Respiratory Therapist and Bargaining Team Member Leanne Welch.
“The County’s bad-faith efforts show they’ve never had a genuine intention to work with us to make the necessary investments in crucial departments like our hospitals. While the County proposes reckless cuts at the bargaining table, patient wait times at Emergency Rooms and health clinics have skyrocketed.”
“We remain united in our demand that the County stop shortchanging our frontline services and quit giving away our tax dollars to Wall Street. We are willing and ready to strike to make this a reality,” she adds.
Now is the time to stay engaged and connected with your fellow Riverside County members. Please contact your worksite organizer or call the Inland Regional Office at call 951-571-7700 for more information on next steps and coming solidarity actions to move the County off their current path.