Nearly 300 Siskiyou County employees begin 5-day strike

YREKA, Calif., — Nearly 300 Siskiyou County employees officially went on strike Monday. Armed with signs, roughly 80 of them picketed around Yreka.

After a year of negotiating, Siskiyou County and the Organized Employees of Siskiyou County’ have not reached an agreement on a new contract. The county employees say they’re fighting for better pay and benefits.

“It’s just exhausting. We shouldn’t have to be working multiple jobs just to survive,” Veronica Rivera, county employee, said.

“Most of us can’t even afford to pay our rent” Jenna Gabriel-Faris, OESC Secretary, said.

The union and county went through mediation and Fact-Finding efforts to try to reach an agreement.

“They want to put a cap on how much money the county wants to pay for health insurance and wants the employee to pick up the rest and for some of these employees, it could mean five to 800 dollars a month,” Matthew Rokes, OESC Labor Representative, said.

According to Rokes, the union has already agreed to the terms from the Fact-Finding efforts. He says ten years ago, the OESC offered to take a hit when the economy took a turn and county finances were tight.

“Our take home pay is drastically cut again and that has happened every negotiation for the past ten years,” Jodi Aceves, county employee, said.

The county declined our interview request, but said a recent survey revealed Siskiyou County employees received a better benefit package than comparable counties. The union says that’s not true.

“Some of them are full time employees and they qualify for the exact welfare benefits that they’re dolling out everyday,” Rokes said.

Despite the strike, all county offices remain open this week.

“My whole department is striking right now, actually most of them are out here,” Gabriel-Faris said.

But the employees say with their offices so short staffed, services may run slow.

“If we don’t stand up for what’s right, no one will,” Rivera said.

The employees will be picketing again Tuesday at about 7:45 a.m. in front of the courthouse.

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Anna Weeks
Anna Weeks is the anchor of NBC5 News at 5 and 11 and Your Place @7 with Anna Weeks. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Originally from the Portland area, Anna loves exploring Southern Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and watching sports.
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