Mendocino County Workers to Flood Board of Supervisors Meeting, Insist County Take Immediate Action to Prevent Further Collapse of Services
As the board of supervisors and county administrators point fingers over budget chaos, county workers continue to provide vital services against impossible odds every day. But how much longer can they wait for solutions to the staffing crisis?
**MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TUES. 8/16**
Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 710-0201, or Patrick Hickey, email@example.com, (707) 386-8457
As public arguments among members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and the county administration over the reliability and accuracy of the budget have reached a fever pitch, county workers are still waiting for them to take action to protect services. With an overall vacancy rate of 27%, it is clear that the county is very short-staffed – but certain crucial classifications are short by as much as 40 to nearly 70%. As frustrated, overworked, underpaid county workers continue to flee to neighboring counties that pay better and the private sector, the county’s most vulnerable residents pay the price.
That price will grow increasingly steeper if administration does not take urgent action to show it is serious about retaining the employees they still have and recruiting for classifications with the most decimated ranks. While short-staffing in private businesses like restaurants and stores means that customers may have to wait longer for a meal or to check out, in county services it means that at-risk children cannot be monitored as closely as needed; that roads connecting rural residents to medical care and groceries cannot be maintained properly; that families in desperate need of assistance cannot get an appointment with an eligibility worker. Tomorrow, county workers will once again fill up the board of supervisors meeting to demand accountability – and action.
WHAT: County workers fill board of supervisors meeting, give impassioned public comment
WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 9am
WHERE: Mendocino County Administration Building, 501 Low Gap Rd., Ukiah
WHO: Mendocino County workers represented by SEIU 1021
Even as the County continues to claim in contract negotiations that it cannot afford even a small cost-of-living adjustment in the face of 9% inflation, the numbers paint a very different picture. A review of budget-to-actual revenues from 2017 through 2021 show that the County has routinely underestimated its revenue in yearly budgets by 3.2% to 112%, with the exception of a covid-related fiscal year 2019-20 shortfall in transient occupancy tax and, to a much smaller degree, property taxes – most of which were backfilled by state and federal aid. And much of the revenue due to the county goes uncollected. More accurate budget projections combined with real enforcement would more than cover the modest COLA county workers are asking for.
“We are the boots on the ground. We are the faces your county constituents see when they need services from this government. We are your right and left hands in an emergency,” said Heidi Corrado, program administrator for public health and public health emergency preparedness coordinator, at the July 12 board meeting. “We know the challenges around recruitment, hiring, retention, because we are the ones still here. We are still making sure the work is done, because it’s needed. These employees, human beings, this family of coworkers, have sacrificed and come to work even when they themselves were evacuated and living in a shelter, worked from home when they were sick with covid—it’s true that you cannot buy that kind of work ethic. It’s true you cannot buy that kind of loyalty. But it should be rewarded.”
SEIU Local 1021 represents nearly 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs, and schools throughout Northern California, including seven private colleges and numerous community colleges. SEIU Local 1021 is a diverse, member-driven organization with members who work to make our cities, schools, colleges, counties, and special districts safe and healthy places to live and raise our families.