Union puts supervisors on strike notice

RIVERSIDE – Members of a union representing custodians, nurses, social workers and other occupations in Riverside County government temporarily brought the Board of Supervisors’ meeting to a halt Tuesday, Aug. 29,  chanting and formally serving the county notice of an imminent strike.

“SEIU! SEIU!” the workers shouted. “Be safe, be safe, be safe county workers”

Supervisor Chuck Washington, chairing the meeting, directed sheriff’s deputies to remove the demonstrators, who numbered several dozen.

As they were herded out of the board chamber, the purple-shirted Service Employees International Union Local 721 members yelled, “Strike! Strike! Strike!”

One demonstrator walked up to the board dais and distributed letters to each supervisor, notifying them of a planned walkout on Sept. 6.

The meeting was called back to order in about five minutes.

“That reminded me of my college days,” Supervisor V. Manuel Perez joked.

County officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the strike notification.

According to SEIU representatives, the union, which represents more than 6,000 county employees, has been locked in negotiations with the Department of Human Resources for 14 months regarding a new collective bargaining agreement.

In a statement posted to the Local 721 website, workers accused the county of “bad faith bargaining” and engaging in unfair labor practices while trying to undermine the union in its demands for improved working conditions, mainly at county clinics and the Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley.

SEIU, the county’s second-largest public sector union, last resorted to work stoppages in early 2012, during a dispute over salaries and pension benefits.

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