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Janitors and home care workers rally for better pay, labor protections


Janitors who clear county workplaces paused their strike Tuesday after San Diego County officers pledged to assist resolve what the employees name abusive situations and retaliation by the contractor they work for.

After happening strike late Monday, the janitors agreed to return to work Wednesday for a two-week cooling-off interval whereas supervisors and the county’s labor workplace examine the complaints in opposition to the contractor, Nova, and search reinstatement of fired staff.

That step got here after a pair of labor actions outdoors the County Administration Middle on Tuesday, reflecting the a number of labor disputes county officers are negotiating.

As janitors in purple shirts marched outdoors the south entrance, waving indicators condemning what they stated have been unfair labor practices, dwelling care employees clad in inexperienced rallied on the constructing’s south aspect in a separate occasion, calling for a $1-an-hour pay elevate and advantages.

Residence caregivers need the county to boost their pay, now $16 per hour, by $1 per hour for the subsequent three years and enhance their well being protection. Supervisors thought of these calls for throughout a closed session Tuesday.

The janitors’ announcement of their strike Monday led supervisors to reschedule occasions in help. Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer canceled a gathering on the county’s decarbonization plan that night to keep away from crossing the picket line.

By Tuesday, nevertheless, Board Chair Nora Vargas stated the employees had agreed to droop the strike for 2 weeks, whereas the county Workplace of Labor Requirements & Enforcement tries to research and resolve the dispute. “Give us two weeks to do the fitting factor, so we are able to carry Nova to the desk,” she stated.

Nova declined to debate the criticism, citing the pending investigation, and stated it was working with the county.

On Dec. 13, the Board of Supervisors handed a coverage to guard greater than 1,000 janitors, landscapers and safety workers in opposition to wage theft, sexual harassment and different unfair work practices by corporations with county contracts. That coverage set wage requirements for contractors’ staff, created a wage theft fund to reimburse staff for lacking wages and established sexual harassment prevention applications.

The allegations in opposition to Nova replicate the sort of issues that coverage was meant to forestall, stated Christian Ramirez, coverage director for SEIU-USWW, which represents janitors and different public employees statewide. The county janitors are within the technique of organizing, he stated, and the union is supporting them of their dispute with Nova.

On Dec. 20, Sofia Martinez, an worker with Nova, stated she was compelled to work on the ground with caustic chemical compounds, in what she charged was retaliation for her labor advocacy.

“They compelled me to work on my knees for eight hours, with 15 liters of chemical compounds, with no masks or eye safety or gloves,” she stated Tuesday.

Martinez stated she suffered again ache, nosebleeds and eye irritation and was fired on Jan. 9. Ramirez stated another staff have been additionally dismissed round that point.

Ramirez stated the employees are searching for higher working situations, in addition to reinstatement and again pay for the employees who have been terminated.

Caregivers rally outdoors the County Administration Constructing on Tuesday.

(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

In a separate occasion Tuesday, dwelling care employees rallied for higher pay and advantages, because the county holds collective bargaining talks with their union, United Home Employees Native 3930.

“Employees are popping out to verify the county continues to make good on its dedication to fixing long-term healthcare,” stated Matthew Maldonado, the union’s director of inside operations.

There are 30,000 dwelling care employees caring for 38,000 individuals in this system now, he stated. Most are relations aiding a guardian, little one or different relative who’s eligible for Medicare.

Their work permits older and disabled individuals to proceed to stay at dwelling, assuring a better high quality of life for sufferers and value financial savings for the state, which might in any other case must pay for residential care, he stated.

Residence care employees earn $16 per hour now. The union is asking for the county to boost that by $1 per hour for the subsequent three years and to supply life insurance coverage and expanded well being advantages for caregivers.

David Haskins, a board member with the union and caregiver for his accomplice, who’s legally blind, stated he handles meals preparation, manages medicine and attends physician visits together with his accomplice however needed to battle to receives a commission for the hours he works.

Having a devoted caregiver provides sufferers one thing to stay up for, Haskins stated. “After they’re motivated, their high quality of life is healthier,” he stated.

The Board of Supervisors was anticipated to contemplate the proposed dwelling care contract in closed session Tuesday and maintain a bargaining session Thursday, Maldonado stated.

As soon as the county and labor negotiators attain a tentative settlement, he expects it to take about three months to ratify and undertake it.

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