“We’ve hit a standstill and we’ve exercised pretty much every right that we have other than striking,” Matthew Rokes, Organized Employees of Siskiyou County labor representative, said.
After a year of negotiating, if an agreement is not met, union workers will start their strike Jan. 6. The union says they are fighting for better pay and benefits. Employees from the Organized Employees of Siskiyou County, or OESC, are planning to strike, from those who work at the courthouse to health and human services.
“Fighting for pay and benefits that are reasonable and equitable compared to the other units that have secured contracts,” Rokes said.
The union and county went through mediation and fact-finding efforts to try to reach an agreement. According to the representative of the OESC, Matthew Rokes, the union has already agreed to the terms from the fact-finding efforts.
“The union accepted it immediately and the county rejected it,” Rokes said.
Now, they say, it’s in the county’s hands.
“When that is rejected you leave the employees no alternative but to strike,” Rokes said.
The county declined an interview request but in a statement said it, “proposed a fair two-year agreement with salary increases totaling 4-3/4 percent, changes to retiree health insurance benefits for new employees hired after Jan. 1, 2020, as well as changes to employee health care premiums.”
The county said a recent survey revealed Siskiyou County employees received a better benefit package than comparable counties. The union disagrees.
“You have employees right now that qualify for welfare benefits and they’re full time employees,” Rokes said.
All county offices will remain open through the planned strike. If an agreement is not met, the strike could last even longer.
On Monday, representatives from both parties met in Sacramento to determine who is considered an essential worker. According to the law, those who are deemed essential are not allowed to strike.