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SEIU holds caravan rally as contract negotiations stall

The Service Employees International Union Local 521 held a caravan rally in front of the Kern County Administrative Building on Monday evening to call out the Board of Supervisors' "lack of priority in addressing stagnant wages, turnover and the inability to retain staff," according to a press release.

The Kern County workers union says contract negotiations have stalled for months, yet throughout the pandemic the essential employees have never wavered to serve and protect county residents.

“We are calling out the board’s unwillingness to prioritize county services, stop the empty praises of essential workers and take bold action to reach a settlement on an expired labor agreement,” Kristy Powers-Stacy, Human Services program specialist and SEIU Local 521 member, said in a statement. “Time after time, county workers have bared the brunt of budget cuts that have resulted in inadequate services for residents, increased turnover across all departments, and our inability as a county to retain hard working employees."

Previously, the local SEIU chapter raised the alarm about a Kern County plan to furlough workers should the coronavirus pandemic necessitate budget cuts.

The plan was never enacted and the union has been relatively quiet since. But it remains to be seen if the relative quiet will last as the county prepares its budget for next fiscal year.