Teamsters halt layoffs in Contra Costa County

Local 856 member and Contra Costa County Mental Health Specialist II, Anntheia Farr

For 11 years, Anntheia Farr worked as a Mental Health Specialist II for Contra Costa Community College (CCCC). Her role at the college was an important one: she worked with students experiencing emotional breakdowns, and with management and police services to make sure vulnerable students’ needs were met.

Last year, in response to a drop in enrollment at the college, its dean decided to slash Anntheia’s hours from 40 to 16 per week, with a plan to eventually reduce her hours to zero. So, when shortly after, Contra Costa County Health Services issued Anntheia a lay-off notice, she contacted her Teamsters 856 representatives, Richie Andazola and Corey Hallman.

“Having my job in limbo affected my health,” she said. “The stress and anxiety impacted me but having the support of my Teamsters 856 reps helped.”

Richie worked with Anntheia to fight the lay-off notice, arguing that the department failed to follow the workforce reduction process outlined in her Teamsters 856 contract. In response, the department rescinded Anntheia’s lay-off, but in turn, issued lay-off notices to five members within the Mental Health Specialist II classification.

“We demanded to meet and confer over the decision to implement the workforce reduction process,” said Richie. “We argued that there was no need for a lay-off because the services provided by the members at CCCC are free of charge to the college, and the impacted employees were able to provide their valuable services elsewhere in the community.”

After several months, several meetings, and a lot of heated debate, Local 856 successfully prevented any lay-offs from taking place. The department rescinded all of the lay-off notices, abandoned its workforce reduction plans, and Anntheia was given a new 40-hour a week assignment.

“I’m still in my classification, but I’m working at West County now,” said Anntheia. “It’s actually where I originally wanted to be.”

Now, Anntheia, who was once hesitant to vote to become a Teamster, is happy to have Local 856 fighting alongside her.

“When I first learned about the Teamsters, I asked why I should vote for this union,” she said. Anntheia explained she could tell Local 856 had done its homework on the needs of County employees when the response was that the Teamsters wanted to fight to lower health care costs and increase wages.

“And after we became Teamsters, we negotiated a raise and instead of paying nearly $400 for health care like I was before, now I’m paying $65,” continued Anntheia. “Teamsters back up their word and do what they say they will do.”