CFS Clerical Workers Stand Together for Workplace Safety

Clerical workers Stephanie and Sylvia.jpg

CFS Clerical Workers Stephanie Marquina (left) and Sandra Ramos did a courageous thing: They stood up for coworkers at a rally today to protest management's weak response to a COVID outbreak at their SSA facility in Orange.

Dear OCEA member,

Today (January 20) over 100 workers, elected officials, community leaders and fellow OCEA members came together to demand safety for Clerical workers at CFS. Rising COVID cases have resulted in unsafe working conditions for frontline public servants. Repeated demands for telecommuting, additional safety and other mitigations have been met with indifference. As of this morning, SSA management had failed to commit to any concrete additional safety measures, instead hiding behind tired, old assurances to further assess the matter. As a result, OCEA members followed through with our commitment to act if the County did meet our demands.

During today’s rally workplace leaders Sandra Ramos and Stephanie Marquina joined with OCEA Labor Representative Saliem Aregaye and General Manager Charles Barfield to speak about the dangers facing frontline workers in CFS. Sandra and Stephanie bravely and eloquently spoke truth to power. Sandra stated, “The indifference and apathy to our demands has made me and co-workers feel hopeless and that our managers don’t care about us. That’s wrong. That’s not how you thank workers who have kept County services running for the last two years during a public health crisis. We demand immediate action by County managers to keep us and every County public servant safe.” Stephanie followed these remarks by speaking to the gut-wrenching choices that workers must make every day, “We should not feel unsafe when coming to work. We shouldn’t have to pick between the health and safety of our families and a paycheck to support those families.”

Often, it can feel that we are alone in our demands for safe treatment. Know that you are not alone. Today you were joined by your fellow OCEA members, retired County workers, and OCEA staff. You were also joined in solidarity with Nick Anas, Chief of Staff for Supervisor Katrina Foley, the Office of State Senator Tom Umberg, Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Bernice-Nguyen, Irvine community leader Kathleen Treseder, labor leader Lourdes Cruz, and the team from the Orange County Labor Federation. These community leaders have your back!

Initially, the County denied all telecommuting. Then, after workers advocated through email writing, meetings with management, and letters to the press, the County gave in to one day of telecommuting per week but with no implementation date or guarantees. Even this small concession by the Agency only happened because workers stood together and voiced their demands.

Most importantly, as of 2:00 p.m. today (1/20) the County has requested a meeting TOMORROW (1/21) at 9:00 a.m. with OCEA staff and CFS Clerical member leaders to further discuss implementation of our demands. Finally the County is agreeing to listen to workers. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but if the Agency continues to ignore safety concerns, our next stop will be the next OC Board of Supervisors meeting.

We will report out any updates from our 9:00 a.m. meeting as soon as we can. In the meantime, please tune into the local news tonight to see coverage of the rally! We were fortunate to have the event covered by several local news organizations, including KCAL and the Voice of OC. The momentum is great, but there is still work to be done.

In Solidarity,

Saliem Aregaye
Labor Relations Representative

Kate Wolf
Labor Relations Representative

Publication Date: January 20, 2022