L.A. County CAT Team members get ready for a dogfight!

L.A. County CAT Team members got fired up for what is bound to be a hot contract bargaining fight!

It was standing room only at their fiery Saturday gathering, which took place at Holman United Methodist Church in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles. Members hailed from across L.A. County – and from numerous county departments – to attend the morning meeting.

“As we launch our contract bargaining campaign, remember: They can issue all the edicts, motions and proclamations they want at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting, but without a workforce, it’s just a bunch of words,” said Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU Local 721. “You are the backbone of L.A. County. You are the men and women who make it run!”

“We know what we want – we want a strong contract,” said Linda Dent, Vice President of SEIU Local 721, who worked for decades as a clerk in at L.A. county’s Office of the Treasurer-Tax Collector. “But we’re going to have to fight hard to get it.”

Attendees learned the ugly truth about the dubious contract proposals currently being offered by top L.A. County managers. They include:

  • No movement on salaries. Currently, L.A. County is offering a seven percent increase over the next three years. But this proposal fails to account for the fact the cost of living in L.A. County is projected to rise 12% during that same time period.
  • A three-year freeze on Options healthcare benefits. Even though insurance premiums are rising by six percent just in the year 2019, L.A. County is refusing to raise their contributions to our healthcare. So in three years, some members will actually start dipping into their salary to pay for their healthcare costs – which is basically a pay cut.
  • Reducing, or eliminating, “Flex Earnings” – commonly known as “cash back.” As part of our union contract, L.A. County contributes a set amount each month toward our healthcare costs. We still pay a monthly premium, which varies depending on the plan we select. The difference between L.A. County’s monthly contribution and our monthly premium is called “Flex Earnings” – which we receive in our monthly paychecks as “cash back.” L.A. County wants to reduce, or eliminate, flex earnings and eventually get rid of any cash back.

Members were reminded that L.A. County did not provide fully covered healthcare plans until SEIU Local 721 launched Operation Rolling Thunder back in 1991. “And we had to strike to win full coverage,” noted Bart Diener, lead negotiator for the L.A. County contract bargaining campaign.

Attendees then got the details of numerous August Heat actions taking place at worksites across L.A. County.

“Brothers and Sisters, this isn’t just a CAT meeting today,” said Lillian Cabral, Secretary of SEIU Local 721, at the event’s conclusion. “We’re getting ready for a cat and dog fight! And when we fight, we win!”

Categories: Los Angeles County