Our first year in Contra Costa County
For a little over a year now, Teamsters 856 has represented workers employed by Contra Costa County. From wage increases, to health care improvements, and changes in the way temporary employees are treated – we’ve accomplished a lot. Together, we’ve built confidence, trust, and power in Contra Costa County, and Teamsters 856 members there are equipped to continue fighting back challenges and winning victories.
“I’m so proud to be a member of the Teamsters,” said Shop Steward Lisa Day-Silva who works as an LVN at the Pittsburg Health Center. “We fight for what’s right, and if workers have been used and abused for all these years, you need to do right by them.”
The number one priority for members in Contra Costa County: health care.
Members were paying up to $800 a month for premiums, and had few health care options besides the Contra Costa County Health Plan (CCHP). When Teamsters 856 began representing County employees, the union offered its own Health & Welfare Trust Fund. The Local bargained directly with Kaiser for better rates, and members are saving on average, between $200 and $600 a month. Members who were enrolled in a County provided health plan as of June 1, 2016, received a one-time, $1,000 pay out to help with the rising cost of premiums. The difference has made a significant impact on members and their families.
“For one thing, we save more,” said Cris Carispo, a physical therapist at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. “CCHP was good, but the waiting periods could be about three months. Now, with Kaiser, we can just call for an appointment.”
“I was with Kaiser before and paying $400 just for myself,” said Occupational Therapist Matt Pajawee. “The savings means a lot in terms of being able to pay my student loans.”
“I’m saving around $300,” said Angelica Mantamoros, a Community Health Worker for Contra Costa Health Services. “I have more money to give my son in college, and my youngest son for the sports he plays. I have more access to health care with Kaiser, and I can save money every month.”
Another big victory: a 10 percent salary increase over three years.
“Right off the bat, during negotiations, we were able to incorporate a 10 percent raise,” said Lisa Day-Silva. “We hadn’t had one in years.” Lisa said the pay increase has helped her deal with the rising cost of living in the area.
“It’s been a big, big change,” said Cris Carispo. “We’re getting a 10 percent raise in the next three years…I can buy a new car!”
Temporary agency employees in the County have been targets of much of the misuse and abuse that has happened. For years, Contra Costa County used temporary agency employees to fill positions that should have been permanent. By doing so, these employees worked without access to benefits or worker protections. Some temporary employees were held in that status for as many as eight years.
Instead of rolling over and approving the County’s plan to further increase it’s nearly $5 million contract with a temp agency in Hanford, California, we challenged the validity of the practice. We worked together to force the County to meet and confer on all temporary agency contracts as they come up for renewal, and to date, over 100 temporary positions have been converted into permanent bid positions. Additionally, we’ve used the meet and confer process to establish a practice that offers LVN, CNA, and Lab Technician job assignments to employees by seniority.
In the past year, we’ve also made strides to protect part-time workers.
Previously, the County pro-rated the amount of the reimbursement part-time employees received for required continuing education coursework based on the number of hours they worked. This however, was not supported by the contract. We overturned this unfair practice through the grievance process. Now, part-time employees receive a 100 percent reimbursement for their training.
Teamsters 856 members in Contra Costa County are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together, but for many it goes beyond what we’ve done, it’s about knowing what we can accomplish in the future.
“We have that feeling that there is hope,” said Corinne Concannon, an Institutional Services Worker – Specialist at the Regional Medical Center. “We’re strong enough to stand up, and that means we have a chance to argue a point if something’s going wrong, and that’s important.
We are stronger now than we were a year ago, and will continue to build upon that strength as a powerful collective unit.
“We will not rest on our laurels, and become complacent now,” said Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn. “We should all be proud of what we’ve accomplished together in Contra Costa County, and use these victories to fuel our fire to fight for more.”