Tulare County Employees on Strike

Fresno, CA, USA Ron Santos, a protester, says "Very tough there are full time employees in Tulare County that actually qualify to be on welfare." The SEIU asked the county for a 5% pay increase. The board voted for a 2.75% increase several weeks ago. The county says local government is also suffering tough times and that the union workers are getting the same pay increase as administrators.

Jean Rousseau, Tulare County Administrative Officer says "There is so much uncertainty in the economy both at the state and federal level that we feel that the package we put on the table is as prudent as we can afford at this time."

SEIU workers say they will strike again if the contract is not renegotiated. Protester Elsa Cardenas says "It's kind of sad when you work for the county for so many years and yet you have to ask for aid."

SEIU protester Doris McMillan says "We need justice and we need contracts. We need a higher pay and we also need medical coverage that's affordable for everyone."

As protesters took to the streets, county offices stayed open. At the District Attorney's office in Visalia, legal assistants and other employees picked up any additional work that needed to be done while many of their co-workers were striking. Administrators admitted there was a slowdown in providing some services to county residents.

Jean Rousseau says "We even went as far as to tell our residents if they can avoid having to do business with the county today it would probably be in everyone's best interest."

While the county says it won't renegotiate the contract, SEIU workers are hoping today's strike will change their minds. They said they will strike again and possibly for a longer amount of time if the county doesn't make a change, but union members would have to vote on another strike first before that would happen.


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