We reach from the Pacific Ocean to the Sedona Desert

Riverside County Bargaining Update November 22, 2017

As most of you are aware, we are preparing to go to Fact Finding with the County. The parties were unable to come to an agreement on the selection of a neutral third party, so PERB has assigned an arbitrator to hear the case.

A phone meeting was scheduled between our attorney, the County's attorney, and the arbitrator for the purpose of scheduling the hearing, discussing the issues, etc. Our attorney was able to speak with the arbitrator, but the County's attorney, without explanation, failed to call in. So, no date for the hearing has yet been scheduled, and we have no clear idea of when the hearing will occur, due to the unavailability of the County's attorney to schedule dates. And that is fine with us.

As we have said before, we are not in a particular hurry. It's interesting to note, however, that the County was adamant in their refusal to waive any of the statutory timelines for scheduling the matter, yet the timelines have been waived due to the County's failure to call in for a previously scheduled conference call. But, again, we're ok with that.

We will be certain to let everyone know just as soon as we have dates scheduled for the hearing. Our attorneys (two in-house as well as an outside firm) are well into the preparation process, and I have a lot of confidence in our legal team and their strategies for both the Fact Finding hearing as well as other matters related to our fight to get a fair contract.

I want to thank and commend all of you who have been making calls to the Board of Supervisors. You have inundated them with calls, and it is important that they continue to hear from you. It is critical that you continue to make the members of the Board aware of the fact that there is significant human consequence attached to the decisions that they make.

We may know more about specific timelines by the time we have our quarterly membership meeting on the 28th, as well as other updates related to our contract campaign, so I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

In the meantime, please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday, filled with warmth, joy, and time spent with family and friends.

In Solidarity,

Stephen Switzer, Business Manager

Response to Supervisor John Tavaglione's Email
Dated October 30, 2017

By now most of you received an email from Supervisor John Tavaglione addressed to his "County Colleagues." I would like to respond to a number of the statements made by the Supervisor in that email. And once again, I need to beg for your indulgence because this isn't likely to be brief.

The Supervisor claims that no one is receiving a pay cut as a result of the County's proposals. He is correct in that no one's salary range has been adjusted downward. Self-serving rhetorical and semantic arguments might be persuasive among the County Elite, but not with our members. When the new insurance rates hit in December you will have less money in your paychecks. The cost of the health plans offered by the County, with the exception of Kaiser, which is only going up just over 2%, are rising substantially. You will see less money in your check. So, you are not receiving a pay cut, but your check will ultimately have less money in it. This combined with restructuring shift differential times, eliminating the requirement that someone be paid to perform bi-lingual services, the fact that you will only accrue vacation and sick time for "paid hours actually worked," and other proposals means that your check will be smaller. Somehow, I don't believe that understanding that the diminished amount of your paycheck isn't the result of a base salary adjustment will make any of you feel better about the situation, or change the fact that your paycheck isn't going to go as far.

The Supervisor also contends that the County has historically given generous raises when they have been in a better financial condition. I don't believe that any candid person would describe the raises given by the County over the years as having been "generous." For years we languished at or near the bottom of the scale when compared to the other benchmark counties. Our last contract did provide some COLAs in exchange for us assuming the employees' share of PERS costs, as well as 6, not 12 as he stated, additional steps to the salary range. What he doesn't mention is that for the first two years of that contract, after having our merit increases frozen for two years, we took our merit increases in increments of one step, which gave them substantial financial relief. And remember that this was after coming out of a contract that not only froze your merit increases, but also cut your pay by 10% in the form of a furlough. They also added three steps to the salary range in that contract- at the bottom of the range! So, we have given much relief to the County since 2010.