Business Tax Breaks, Wage Theft Hurting Workers
(ONTARIO, Calif.) – More than 1,200 San Bernardino County public employees were joined by State Treasurer John Chiang and District Attorney Mike Ramos at a town hall meeting at the Ontario Convention Center this weekend to protest the County Board of Supervisors’ broken promises.
County workers perform crucial jobs such as 911 dispatchers, techs at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, child abuse hotline workers, building and bridge inspectors, flood specialists and many more. Their contract promises a step increase every year, but last year the County started holding back those wage increases for months or even a year. In June, the County agreed to make up for the step increases it had held back, but then reneged on the agreement days later.
Despite reporting budget surpluses each year since 2005, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has asked public employees to take cuts in wages, healthcare and retirement and now pays employees far less than public employees neighboring counties.
“We were proud and excited to witness the terrific turnout of San Bernardino public employees at the event,” said Randy Korgan, Teamsters Joint Council 42 Organizing Director. “These employees, who are now members of Teamsters Local 1932, are members of the San Bernardino community. They work hard every day in order to make San Bernardino County a better place to live. They deserve to be paid good wages and to be treated with respect on the job. We will not stand for this wage theft.”
“County officials should hold billion-dollar corporations accountable for paying livable wages and their fair share in taxes, which will in turn allow the county to retain the best and brightest providing invaluable services in the community,” Korgan said.
The Ontario Convention center had originally set up the meeting space to hold 900 people, but the ranks of county employees swelled and the center quickly added more seats, taking the total number up to over 1,200.
As reported in the Examiner, when San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos took the stage, he said in his 12.5 years in this position he had never attended such a large event. “When I walked in, I was like, oh my God, this energy is amazing.”
“I’m proud to be part of the Teamsters Union,” said Ginger Hicks, eligibility worker in the County Transitional Assistance Department since 1998. “The Board of Supervisors promised to raise our wages, but now they are going back on that commitment. We heard from elected leaders that they support our fight to keep what we were promised and I believe that now we that we are members of the Teamsters we will get results.”
The Inland Empire has a lower median household income and higher poverty and unemployment rates than California as a whole. Public employees in San Bernardino County make much less in total compensation than their counterparts in neighboring counties.
Population growth as well as the growth of the two major industries employing blue collar workers – goods movement and construction – has been driven by cheap real estate and the Inland Empire’s position in relation to Southern California’s 23 million residents and the two busiest port complexes in the country.
“Our members are taking action and this meeting where both the District Attorney and State Treasurer spoke is concrete evidence of that,” said Deidre Rodriguez, general manager for SBPEA Teamsters Local 1932. “We are working together for better wages and benefits for our members – improvements which will benefit the entire county.”
San Bernardino Public Employees are part of the Teamsters Public Service Division which represents over 273,000 employees at city, state and federal facilities and related businesses across the United States.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.