Contra Costa County workers march on Board of Supervisors to fight understaffing
On Tuesday, April 26, 2202, Contra Costa County workers urged the Board of Supervisors to address Contra Costa’s staffing crisis, as hundreds of workers marched to the Board of Supervisors Administration Building during the regularly scheduled Board meeting. The march included workers who staff the public hospital, clinics, and COVID test sites and workers who maintain the County’s streets, safeguard the environment, and keep the libraries and courts open.
The rally outside of the County Administration Building featured speeches from the frontline and essential workers and a speech by Lorena Gonzalez, former California State Assemblymember and the incoming Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation.
Workers were represented by nine labor unions, covering 6,200 county employees and more than two-thirds of the County’s total workforce. These unions include SEIU Local 1021, IFPTE Local 21, Deputy District Attorneys Association, Western Council of Engineers, AFSCME Local 1, AFSCME Local 512, AFSCME Local 2700, Contra Costa Defender Association, and Teamsters Local 856, along with support from the Contra Costa County Labor Council.
Ashley Payne, an Eligibility Worker III with Contra Costa County and the First Vice President of the SEIU Local 1021 Rank and File Chapter, said, “We need to put an end to the chronic understaffing that is causing a crisis, particularly during the pandemic. With our staffing levels, we are unable to meet the needs of our community. Everybody is doing the work of two or three people and burnout is an epidemic of its own among my coworkers. Hiring is one problem, and another is retention: we simply can’t keep people here with the non-competitive wages and benefits on offer, and that’s why we need the Board of Supervisors to recognize this problem and solve it. They must break their pattern of austerity and use the funds they have available to invest in the services our community needs and in the workers who provide those services.”
In Contra Costa County, there are nearly 2,000 county job positions unfilled. The majority of vacancies are in County Health Services, one of the departments tasked with addressing some of the County’s most pressing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vacancies have an undeniable impact on the quality and speedy delivery of services from County departments. For further background, see StaffUpContraCosta.org.