The following is a press release issued by SEIU Local 1021:
[This] morning, Mendocino County workers will be rallying at the Board of Supervisors meeting to defend County services.
For the past five months, the County Administration has refused to bargain in good faith with its employees — all while staffing levels continue to hemorrhage. Fighting for the community’s access to road crews, public health nurses, children’s social workers, and other vital County services, County workers feel that the situation has become untenable. Last month, County workers voted to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike, should a strike become necessary. The strike authorization vote passed overwhelmingly, with 92.4% voting yes.
What: County workers rally, give speeches
When: Tuesday, August 29th, starting at 8:45 AM
Where: 501 Low Gap Rd, Ukiah, CA 95482
Visuals: County workers wearing purple union shirts, chanting
Despite a staffing crisis that is threatening the safety of Mendocino’s families — and amidst rumblings of a potential strike — the County has continued to bargain in bad faith. The County has proposed a wage freeze and dramatic increases in monthly employee health insurance premiums — increases in monthly employee premiums upward of 65% in some cases. The County’s proposals would continue to exacerbate the exodus of County employees leaving for jobs in surrounding counties and industries, while making the County’s recruitment even harder. Ultimately, the County’s proposals would result in even higher vacancy rates, reduced services, slower response times, and more of the County’s children and elderly becoming at risk.
The Board of Supervisors and the CEO’s office have struggled for months to get a clear handle on the County’s finances, pleading ignorance about the County’s actual financial position. At the same time, the County has made the specious claim that they have a structural deficit of $11 million. In reality, total revenue for Mendocino County has increased 44.8% since 2019-2020. Since 2015, Mendocino County has regularly and significantly under-projected its tax revenue, missing the mark by anywhere between $1.3 to $10.3 Million dollars.
“County employees need to see that the Board and the Administration have their backs,” said SEIU 1021 Mendocino County Chapter President Julie Beardsley, a senior public health analyst for the county. “We love the work we do, but it is becoming harder and harder to make ends meet. When we see other counties moving ahead and Mendocino County remains mired in dysfunction, it can be disheartening.”
Mendocino County has a county-wide vacancy rate of 29%. Among the critical staffing shortages jeopardizing the health, safety, and well-being of county residents, including the most vulnerable, are:
- A nearly 40% vacancy rate in Family & Children’s Services — putting at-risk kids in danger;
- A 44% vacancy rate in Department of Transportation road crews, meaning our roads don’t get paved or repaired in a timely manner;
- A 47% vacancy rate for public health nurses, putting our low-income and elderly populations at risk; and
- A 70% vacancy rate for mental health clinicians.