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Orange County Focus

FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Sanitation Districts Workers Picket Plant

August 03, 1994|DEBRA CANO

About 30 employees of the Orange County Sanitation Districts picketed in front of the agency's Ellis Avenue plant Tuesday to express their dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in contract negotiations.

Operations and maintenance workers carried placards and took personal leave time to demonstrate for about two hours. Workers' three-year contracts expired last November.

"A lot of people are really unhappy about the way the district has been treating us and we're trying to bring it to the public's attention and the district's attention," said Ellen Ray, chief steward of Operating Engineers Local 501.

Union members are expected to vote late next week on whether to accept the Sanitation Districts' final contract offer or reject it and authorize a strike, Ray said.

The union represents 281 employees in the operations and maintenance department, and of those workers, 171 are union members, Ray said. The employees keep the sewage treatment facilities in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach operating, she said.

Ray, an equipment operator and 9 1/2-year employee, said management is offering no pay raise for the first year of a three-year contract.

"A lot of people aren't happy with that," she said.

Corinne Berenson, Sanitation Districts spokeswoman, declined to comment on the contract dispute.

Berenson said service will not be interrupted if workers strike.

A 3% pay raise is being offered for the second and third years of the contract, Ray said, adding that the district wants employees to work 12-hour shifts instead of their current nine-hour shifts.

Union members are also in disagreement with contract language that deals with layoffs and with the plant contracting for outside services.

"The bottom line is we want to be treated fairly and we're not," Ray said.

Ray added that workers are planning to picket the Aug. 10 board of directors meeting.

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