Employees tell Supervisors they can’t get a break
At the beginning of Tuesday’s Inyo County board of Supervisors meeting in Independence, the Inyo County Employees Association (ICEA), Local 315 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, gave public comment, hoping to convince the county to return to the bargaining table and end the impasse in negotiations that began in March 2016.
Union members’ appeals appeared to largely fall on deaf ears. Supervisors sat impassively as union members pleaded with them to intervene in the matter. County Administrative Officer (CAO) Kevin Carunchio couldn’t be bothered to listen, stepping in and out of the Board room during public comment, and appearing to fixate upon whatever busy work he could find.
The only county district supervisor to speak at all was Second District (Bishop) Supervisor Jeff Griffiths, who responded to a request by a union member for all the supervisors to get out and get to know their county employees. Griffiths said he visits the Bishop office regularly.
County Supervisors have very little involvement in the union negotiations other than voting on the final agreement. The negotiations for the County are being handled by a team of administrators, led by Carunchio.
The County is offering the employees a 1-percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) raise for the next two years with 2-percent raise in the third year. ICEA is holding out for a 2-percent annual increase over the next three years.
Union members expressed that they feel underappreciated (“invisible” was the word they used) and overworked thanks to many unfilled staffing positions within county departments. So many employee positions are vacant, they say, that county employees are wearing “many hats” to get necessary work done. They also contend that recruitment and retention are real issues that are making it increasingly difficult to attract good, experienced job applicants.