Contra Costa County Teamster fights for fairness after an on-the-job injury

Local 856 member receives over $1,000 in hazard pay

Harry Avington is an institutional services worker at Contra Costa County.

Harry Avington has worked in housekeeping at the Contra Costa County Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) since 2012. In his day-to-day job as an institutional services worker (ISW), he ensures that rooms in and around the intermediate care unit and the intensive care unit are properly cleaned and meet the standards for providing quality, safe patient care.

In April 2017, Harry injured his back while he was working. “I woke up in tremendous pain the next day and couldn’t get ready for work,” recalled Harry. “I eventually made it to work, completed the injury form and was sent to an occupational doctor who put me on light duty.”

After a few months of being moved from job to job on light duty, Harry was assigned to the CCRMC front desk where he assisted patients and visitors who came into the hospital.

While working at the front desk, Harry discovered that one of his fellow ISWs, who was doing housekeeping in the front desk area, was receiving hazard pay, but Harry was not.

When Harry asked several of his supervisors about whether he too was entitled to hazard pay, he was told he was. However, the payroll department told him he was not.

That’s when Harry brought the issue to his Teamsters 856 representative, Richie Andazola. According to Harry, he knew his representative would fight for him.

“The County’s hazard pay differential has been an issue since our units first became Teamsters,” said Richie. “Our grievance was based on disparate treatment. The employer’s only argument to defend the disparity in their application of hazard pay eligibility was based on the fact that Harry was on light duty, not that he was performing some task that was less hazardous than employees not on light duty.”

Richie filed a grievance on Harry’s behalf. The County protested the disparate treatment and fought back for months, and the issue was eventually sent to arbitration.

Prior to the arbitration hearing, the County agreed to settle and paid Harry over $1,000 in hazard pay.

“I am proud of my fellow Teamsters — Harry and the shop stewards — for sticking together and holding the County accountable for this type of disparate treatment,” said Richie.