For more than two years, Riverside County leadership has done its level best to lower the standards for the county’s hardworking public servants. This week, in reaching a tentative agreement with LiUNA Local 777, the county showed that it may be ready to abandon that destructive path.
The county’s anti-worker agenda has been known since before the contracts with the Sheriffs Department, SEIU and LiUNA expired in 2016. That February, former supervisor Marion Ashley presented his “16 Point Plan for Financial Stability” which included things like a hiring freeze, no raises for any county workers, reducing merit increases and even introducing the possibility of furloughs.
All of these “financial stability” ideas were introduced with no concern for what this slash-and-burn approach would do to county services and how that would hurt county residents – and at the same time that the county was in the middle of handing over more than $40 million to foreign consulting giant KPMG.
Ashley’s plan and the county’s subsequent actions made it very clear that what was happening in Riverside was not about “financial stability,” – it was about busting unions. For more than two years, this county said, “We’re coming after county workers, and if they don’t like it, we’ll do whatever we can to impose.”
They imposed on the Sheriffs in November of 2017.
The strength of SEIU 721 members held off imposition for over two years – and the county racked up 39 unfair labor practice charges along the way, but the county ultimately imposed on us in December of 2018.
The legality of that imposition is still an open question and will be settled in court.
It looks like this week, with two new board members, the county may have finally seen the light, reaching a tentative agreement with LiUNA.
We’re hopeful that this is a sign that the county is ready to bargain in good faith and, as always, invite them to come to the table to work out a deal that raises up all of Riverside County.
SEIU 721 members are not in the business of being bullied by employers. We know that the work we do is too important and that the communities we serve are too important for us to do anything but fight.
We still believe in the American Dream. Every worker has the right to fair wages, a secure retirement, healthcare for their families and respect from their employer.
So while we’re hopeful that this new board has abandoned the destructive legacy of its predecessors, we’re more than willing to do whatever it takes to protect our county. SEIU 721 members are going to continue to fight in the streets, in court and in the statehouse for the county that our families, friends and neighbors deserve.