Nine Unions Rally for Affordable Healthcare for Contra Costa County Employees

Nearly 300 Contra Costa County workers rallied outside the Board of Supervisors meeting in September before packing the board room to make their demands loud and clear: We need a healthcare fix in Contra Costa County now!

Our sisters and brothers from AFSCME Local 512 and Local 2700 were joined by seven other unions and a number of community allies to make the action even stronger. Richmond Vice Mayor Melvin Willis, Richmond City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, the Contra Costa Labor Council, ACCE, the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa, Rev. Will McGarvy and many more added their voices to the fight.

"Seeing our power in numbers firsthand at the rally was amazing and so encouraging," AFSCME 2700 Secretary Tiawna Dominguez said. "To see so many union members join in the fight for the affordable healthcare we deserve gives me hope that we can win."

Contra Costa County workers have the highest premium rates for families in the Bay Area. The county has been unwilling to fix the problem, and now those rates are set to get even higher—as much as 14.74 % in January 2019.

Contra Costa County workers pay 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.

While September's efforts are already strengthening the nine-union healthcare coalition's position, members of the coalition understand that the momentum they're creating must be kept up.

"To make real change in Contra Costa County, we must demand that the Board of Supervisors do better for our members and work with the coalition to find solutions that result in affordable healthcare for county employees," said AFSCME Local 512 President America Patterson. "Tuesday's action was a good start to our fight to demand affordable healthcare. Together, we can make this happen."

The actions our sisters and brothers have been taking to demand affordable healthcare for themselves and their families has already made Contra Costa County take notice.

The county has agreed to three bargaining dates with the coalition since the rally. Additionally, the county has proposed to cover the 2019 premium increases for the members' Kaiser and CCHP plans, and partial coverage for Health Net increases.

However, the county’s proposal to address the 2019 increases would lock members into a three-year contract that would not fix healthcare rates for 2020 or 2021, and it would not fix the unaffordable premiums our sisters and brothers already have.

While the county says it would include wage increases in the deal, our sisters and brothers know that they will be eaten up by rising healthcare costs unless something is done.

To keep up the fight, the coalition is planning more actions over the next several weeks and months and has a growing online petition to show the county that they will not take any deal where our members are staving off premium increases for one year in exchange for selling themselves out in the following years of their contract.