Nine-Union Coalition Wins Affordable Healthcare Deal in Contra Costa County

At the 11th hour, a nine-union coalition representing more than 4,800 workers reached a tentative agreement with Contra Costa County that will provide relief on healthcare costs and wage increases for our members.

The three-year contract extension is a major victory for our sisters and brothers, which include AFSCME Local 512 and AFSCME Local 2700.

If ratified, the deal will help Contra Costa County workers take significant steps toward fixing their healthcare problems and getting wage increases they deserve over the term of the new contract.

"Because of our collective action, the county finally got an understanding that we were actually trying to make things better for the county and the healthcare system," Local 2700 Vice President Stacie Hinton said. "We changed the county's approach to healthcare, which gives us an opportunity to get on a level playing field and get equal premiums across the board."

For years, Contra Costa County workers have had the highest premium rates for families in the Bay Area. The county had been unwilling to fix the problem, and those rates were set to get even higher in 2019.

Contra Costa County workers were paying more than double their counterparts in San Francisco for family coverage, and triple that of city workers in Oakland. Fed up with the county's lack of support, the members from nine unions formed a coalition to say enough is enough.

Over the last several months, coalition members placed hundreds of phone calls to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors offices, rallied and made public comments at the monthly board meetings, collected more than 2,000 employee petition signatures and engaged in solidarity pickets at a dozen county worksites—all of which created the pressure and leverage they needed to come to a fair agreement with the county.

Some of the key highlights of the deal include:

  • 100% county coverage of all medical plan premium increases for 2019.
  • A 3-year contract extension with the following wage increases: 4% in 2019, 3% in 2020 and 3% in 2021.
  • A second open enrollment period in early December to allow members to make new healthcare selections based on the tentative agreement.
  • The county would pay a fairer percentage of total health premiums moving forward.
  • An increased county investment in employee healthcare amounting to $29 million over the term of the contract.

"Negotiating as a coalition with the other locals really made a difference," Local 512 President America Patterson said. "That allowed us to organize against the county's tactics and get the resources we needed to win."