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Local union strikers respond to current struggles with fair pay and staffing

Posted at 4:52 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 20:42:13-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Following complaints of pay and staffing, the union representing Kern County workers said they will strike.

The Kern County Chapter Vice President, Tiffany Sagbohon said, “we called this press conference today to announce the results of a three week vote of our country membership following county measurements last best and final offer presented to us last month.”

Sagbohon said they are sad it had to come to this because for years they’ve been fighting for fair pay and proper staffing.

“It’s disheartening, it’s absolutely disheartening. I’ve been in the county for a very, very long time and to see the decline in the county's services since then is really disheartening.”

Several essential workers showed up at the press conference in support of the potential strike including social worker Alicia Aleman who also voted to reject the county's offer.

“We’ve asked repeatedly for help to no avail and now we’re taking matters into our own hands to help ourselves to stop the counties illegal tactics and their unfair labor practices.”

Aleman said throughout the pandemic they’ve always been told to do more with less support.

Kern County officials have released a statement in response to the vote to the strike: “It is unfortunate that SEIU’s leadership has rejected and worked against the county’s efforts to implement crucial reforms in the way we compensate our employees.”

Providing a wage increase for employees that increase is a 5% increase in the entry-level wage for all represented classifications starting Jan. 1, 2022, among other changes.

Still, SEIU members like Dolores Huerta said it’s not enough: “There is no excuse why they should not get the wage increases they deserve and to have these positions filled.”

Huerta said the county has the money so they should not say there is a lack of funding.

If this strike were to happen it would affect several essential services within Kern County.

“We have close to 5,000 employees that we represent so think about your Public Works Dept., your roads, your sanitation.”

When we asked about when those workers may strike, there was no clear answer on an exact date.