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County employees abruptly walk out on supervisors

wage issue cited

March 28, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

A group of county employees, including one set to receive a certificate for 10 years of service, abruptly walked out of Tuesday's county Board of Supervisors over an alleged impasse in contract negotiations.

Frederick J. Bryant, who works in the District Attorney's family support division, when called to receive his certificate in open ceremony, stood up and told the board he could not do so because the county has not granted his bargaining unit a raise in years.

Bryant and about 20 others, amid loud hoopla, then walked out of the meeting.

"We have not received a pay raise in 10 years," Bryant said afterward.

County records show differently. Contracts supplied by the county's human resources department show that Bryant's bargaining unit, the technical unit, represented exclusively by the California School Employees Association, last received a 2 percent pay increase in November 1998, followed by a 2 percent increase in May 1999. Prior to those raises, the unit had received a 3 percent raise in April 1994 followed by a 3 percent raise in November 1994.

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County Human Resources Manager Nellie Lerma said the unit and the county have been using contract extensions since the last contract expired Dec. 31, 1999.

In other business, the county:

l received an update on the status of the county's application to have certain areas designated a foreign trade zone. The board was told the designation is a cash flow benefit in the sense that companies are allowed to import goods into the zone, modify the goods and not pay import taxes on them until they leave the zone.

l received an update on the status of altering the former Bank of America building in Brawley. The facility is expected to one day house a courthouse, a sheriff's station and county administrative offices. The goal is to make it easier for North County residents to obtain county services. The county spent $1.45 million to purchase the building, and together with the state will spend $900,000 to remodel it. The county bought the building in December 1998.

Randy Rister, county property services manager, said numerous design changes requested by county courts and by Calipatria State Prison have stalled the project.

The board voted to issue a request for proposals to remodel the facility.

l voted unanimously to approve a resolution in support of efforts by the La Verne-based American Sand Association to reopen areas of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area that have been closed in recent months.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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