Contra Costa County members overwhelmingly ratified their very first Teamster contract last month. The three-year agreement covers 1,700 Teamsters in the Health Services, Licensed Vocational Nurses and Aides, and General Maintenance & Services units and significantly lowers out-of-pocket health care costs, increases wages, and improves safety language.
Contra Costa County workers voted to become Teamsters 856 members in February of this year.
“Affordable health care was paramount in our first contract negotiations,” said Teamsters 856 Principal Officer Peter Finn who served as lead negotiator. “These workers were paying outrageous out-of-pocket medical costs prior to joining Local 856 and we were committed to stopping this bleeding.”
Bargaining Team Member Marina Becerra agrees.
“We all understood that lowering health care costs was a priority,” Becerra, a Mental Health Clinical Specialist said. “It was out of control. Some people had their whole paycheck going to health insurance. The new contract offers a significant savings for a lot of staff,” she said.
Veronica Hudson, who’s been with the County 25 years as detention service worker, served on the bargaining committee for the first time in her career. “It was a very interesting experience to be at the table and talk directly with the big bosses about our workplace issues and know that they have to listen to us,” she said.
Becerra, who does have previous bargaining committee experience, appreciated the consistency of the rank and file negotiating team and Teamster staff.
“The Teamster negotiators did a great job speaking to the County, were very prepared, knew what was needed, and were able to come up with creative solutions to alleviate the health care issue,” Becerra continued. “I look forward to more creative solutions to resolve workplace problems at the departmental level.”
Finn said that the advancements in this contract are the beginning of much-needed change at the County.
“We still have work to do, but this contract is a good first step in our resolve to improve conditions for our members who do the hard work of serving the County day in and day out,” said Finn.
The contract covers employees across a wide variety of professions, ranging from pharmacists to gardeners, working throughout Contra Costa including hospitals, jails, and out in the field.
“It was great to stand with fellow County employees from other departments who were all fighting for the same thing,” Hudson said. “We are so happy to be Teamsters.”