County has been disingenuous in their negotiations

To the Editor:

As a member of the California United Homecare Workers negotiating team, I attended the recent fact-finding hearing in Eureka.

On the second day, Wednesday, Aug. 29 it was stated by the county counsel and the director of health and human services department that the financial aspect of the request for higher wages was not a factor; that they have the funding, but had other departmental priorities.

We have been in negotiations with the county for over a year-and-a-half. We have had at least five meetings and a mediated negotiation. During all these meetings the county maintained that there was no funding for a wage increase. They even asked us to identify funding sources. We did this in a spirit of cooperation even though it was not our role to do so. Each suggestion was rejected out of hand, without any effort to reach an agreement or any offer of a counter proposal.

Now, I must submit that the county was disingenuous in their negotiations and was in fact bargaining in bad faith. It was never disclosed that there were funds that could be used for a wage increase. There was no effort on the county’s part to work with the union to end the disgrace of minimum wage for homecare workers, although all agreed that the workers deserved a wage increase. The county’s stance throughout was that there was no funding. Now we find that this was not true.

I am deeply disturbed that the county and its negotiators allowed the travesty to continue at great expense and hardship to both parties, but especially to CUHW and those of us who lost hours and days of work and incurred travel expenses as well.

Margaret Lewis

Homecare Provider

Member, CUHW Negotiating Team