In 2017, about a year and a half after more than 1,700 Contra Costa County employees voted to become members of Local 856, the County’s diagnostic imaging technologists used their solidarity as a tool to win fairness on the job. And last month, the same group of members held their employer accountable when they were paid incorrectly, winning on average between $7,000 and $30,000 in backpay.
Teamsters 856 and Contra Costa County came to an agreement in 2017 to reclassify radiologic technologists as diagnostic imaging technologists. “Depending on the employees’ credential they received the potential of up to a 20 percent increase in salary,” Local 856 Representative Corey Hallman said at the time.
The agreement came after a five-month stand in which the technologists collectively refused to volunteer to work on-call hours. As a result of their solidarity, the County agreed to reclassify the members and give them pay increases in-line with the work they were performing.
When the wage increases showed up in their paychecks though, many members were stunned to see the raises were significantly lower than expected. In some cases, members who were supposed to be reclassified and paid at the top of the pay scale were actually put in a lower pay scale altogether.
Local 856 filed a grievance and just before the arbitration hearing, the County changed its tune.
“They agreed to correct everyone retroactively back to 2017 when we first came to the agreement including all on-call pay and overtime pay,” said Corey. “The members’ persistence forced the County to hold up its end of the agreement and the diagnostic imaging technologists received their retroactive pay just in time for the holidays.”
Darrell Pierce was part of the team that negotiated the agreement that reclassified the techs. His retro check came just in time to ensure his family had a happy holiday season.
“My son plays high school basketball and has to travel for games throughout December so we have to stay in hotels the entire month,” he said. “I usually have to max out a credit card to do this for my son, but when my retro check came, I was able to pay for it while also making sure my family had a good Christmas.”
For Darrell and his coworkers, the retroactive pay was important, but the effect the pay increase and reclassification will have on them and future employees is just as impactful.
“This shows that we have great representation,” he said. “Now, we’re more on par with other hospitals and able to compete. Now, we’ve built something that will last.”