San Bernardino County leaders scoffed at the idea that the county’s general employees have had enough of pay and benefit cuts so much so that they would take a few hours out of a weekend morning to attend a union rally. They were expecting a low turnout. They were wrong. More than 1,200 Teamsters showed for the event, which featured presentations by San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and California State Treasurer John Chiang.
Historically, employees in the county’s general units have rolled over and taken whatever pay reductions San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors deemed necessary. Attendance at union-sponsored events was often light. But after years of pay cuts, earlier this year the general employees voted to affiliate with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and were excited to show their support of their new union on Saturday.
The Teamsters promises a different way of dealing with the board of supervisors. Saturday’s rally was the first public display of how things will change. It was meant to set the tone for an economic reopener scheduled next month. Employees were quick to show their enthusiasm.
“I was gratified to see the turnout today,” said Deidre Rodriguez, general manager for SBPEA Teamsters Local 1932. “This is a new beginning for the Local, and the members showed that. Instead of sitting back, they are now taking action and ready to work together to gain better wages and benefits for themselves and for their families.”
Randy Korgan, Teamsters Joint Council 42 Organizing Director, was also quite pleased with the turnout. “Today marks a point where people are no longer going to sit back and be called villains when they serve the community and work hard,” said Korgan after the rally. “It was great to witness this event.”
“Elected leaders, members and the community packed the Ontario Convention Center today in an effort to bring awareness to who has been taking billions of dollars out of our local economy,” Korgan said. That concept was one of the most important points the Teamsters wanted to get across. They enlisted the help of California Treasurer John Chiang, who served as keynote speaker.
Korgan and Rodriguez were not the only ones who noted the turnout that packed a room at the Ontario Convention Center. When San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos took the stage, he said in his 12.5 years as DA, he had never been to such a large event. “When I walked in, I was like, oh my God, this energy is amazing.” Ramos went on to discuss impact of criminal behavior by the county’s elected officials on the economic health of the county. He promised to see the current prosecutions, which involve former county elected officials, thru to conclusion.
All five members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors were invited to attend. None showed up to listen to the concerns of the employees who work for them, continuing the dismissive attitude the board has towards the county’s 19,000 employees.
Currently, two board members, Supervisors Janice Rutherford and Robert “Bob” Lovingood, are openly hostile towards employees. Lovingood owns a temporary employment service and has been heard commenting about the high cost of government labor in comparison to what services such as his could provide to private and public sector employers.
Teamsters expect to host future events as negotiations get underway. For more information, check out their Facebook page and website.