Solano County workers stage walkout

Solano County government workers with Service Employees International Union Local 1021 walked off their jobs at 10:21 a.m. Tuesday to protest alleged unfair labor practices.

“Since the expiration of the contract between the county and the SEIU 1021 on Sept. 28, the county has escalated a campaign of misinformation and worker intimidation,” SEIU Local 1021 officials said in a statement this morning.

The union alleges the county has illegally deducted fees from workers’ paychecks to cover the county’s financial obligations to retirement funds, against California pension laws, SEIU spokeswoman Cecille Isidro said.

The union filed charges against the county with the Public Employment Relation Board to restore the workers’ pay, Isidro said.

The county also allegedly threatened to not reimburse workers for medical coverage if they strike, Isidro said. County executives have restricted workers’ earned sick leave, causing them and their family members to miss medical appointments, she said.

County negotiators also allegedly have not adequately addressed the safety concerns of overnight, on-call social workers who move at-risk youth from dangerous situations at night, Isidro said.

Solano County SEIU employees went on strike for two days in October.

The union members have planned a 1 p.m. rally at the County Administration Center in Fairfield.

“We are prepared to be out (on strike) all week. It will be a decision of our members,” said John Stead-Mendez, executive director of SEIU Local 1021.

Solano County administrators said in a statement Friday that they have declared an impasse in negotiations with the union and that “future discussions would be futile.” The county said it made three requests to engage in mediation, which the union rejected, and the remaining issues focus on pension costs and health care benefits.

“We’ve explored so many options to try to reach agreement with SEIU Local 1021 so employees could see increases in their paychecks before the holidays,” County Administrator Birgitta Corsello said in the statement.

“The offer is fair. It balances the interests of the county to responsibly use taxpayer dollars and to provide security with good wages and benefits to out employees,” Corsello said.

“It’s an offer 10 other bargaining units have already accepted and ratified, with another two labor unions presently voting to ratify. I am disheartened that we do not have an agreement at this time with SEIU Local 1021,” Corsello said.

Today’s walkout comes as SEIU Local 1021 workers in nearby Sonoma County are also holding a one-day strike and picketing outside a dozen county worksites.