Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig is calling out the union representing home health care workers after they engaged in a “car caravan” protest in his Clovis neighborhood Thursday night.
For nearly every supervisor meeting for the past two years, purple-clad SEIU members addressed the board, complaining about wages. In flyers posted by Magsig, the SEIU organized the caravan to drive through supervisors’ neighborhoods.
“The Fresno board of supervisors are proposing to keep IHSS workers at poverty level wages and they want to eliminate our healthcare insurance. THAT IS NOT FAIR!!!” the flyer said.
Video posted by ABC 30 shows cars driving and honking in the Fresno neighborhood of Supervisor Steve Brandau.
SEIU 2015 president Arnulfo De La Cruz justified the protest in a statement to the media.
“Yesterday, we held an approximately five-minute peaceful action where we drove through a neighborhood and honked our horns to get the attention of the Supervisors. We had informed the neighborhood the day before that we would be doing this and asked them to join us,” De La Cruz said.
SEIU says workers make $16.10 an hour, and supervisors have only offered an 85 cent per hour raise. De La Cruz said the supervisors initially offered a 15 cent an hour pay raise, then raised it to 85 cents in exchange for eliminating the workers’ health care funding.
“This workforce is mostly women of color. And while workers all across the country are going on strike, this is a group of workers who can’t strike … they can’t walk out on those they care for. The peaceful actions they’re taking now are their cry for justice. The time to support these essential workers and provide them with living wages is now and we will continue to pressure Supervisors through peaceful protest until they negotiate with us in good faith,” De La Cruz said.
De La Cruz denied that the union protesters were violent or nearly hit a child on Magsig’s street. No one was outside when protesters arrived, and in fact one was a target of violence, De La Cruz said. A resident ripped a poster off a car and shoved it in an organizer’s face, which prompted a call to police, he said.
Brandau: I Wasn’t Home
Supervisor Steve Brandau called the car caravan protest a “pretty sketchy tactic” but said he wasn’t bothered by it, largely because he wasn’t home at the time.
He said he arrived on his street just as the protesters were leaving and learned from his neighbors what had been going on. While there was anger in Magsig’s neighborhood, possible because he lives on a cul-de-sac, Brandau said his neighbors were more confused by the noisy caravan.
“In the end of the day, it was a pretty ineffective way of kind of getting their message across,” he said. “It certainly probably backfired, in my opinion, to come to where somebody lives and to kind of just like, ‘hey, we’re going to be right in your face.’ I don’t know if it’s the best plan, but that’s what they did.”
Brandau said the health care workers union needs to address their pay concerns to lawmakers in Sacramento, not the Fresno County supervisors, because the county contributes only a portion of their pay. “The bulk of this needs to be addressed in Sacramento,” he said.