Editor’s note: During the Nov. 29 Board of Supervisors meeting when supervisors approved an 85-15 split on employee health insurance premiums, it was mentioned that about 200 employees (who are part of two separate unions) didn’t accept the offer. At least one board member said he didn’t know why. When Plumas News posted an article about the agenda item, county employees took issue with the board pleading ignorance. During today’s board meeting, Dec. 6, county employee Ava Hagwood read a statement clarifying the issue. Her remarks are reprinted here.
By Ava Hagwood
Plumas County employee
Good Morning Supervisors,
My name is Ava Hagwood and I have worked as a Plumas County child welfare social worker for the past three years. I wanted to come speak with you all today for the seventh time in the past two months, to address the recent article published by Plumas News titled: Supervisors express gratitude; approve new health care premium split. I would first like to thank you all for the 85%/15% health care premium split offer– this is a far more equitable balance and one that is more reflective of other county health care premium costs.
However, the article indicated the Board is unaware of why employees are not going for this offer. While reading the article, I along with many fellow colleagues, were shocked. For the past six general board meetings, numerous county employees have come pleading with you for higher pay in addition to an improved health care premium split. During the November 1, 2022, Board of Supervisors meeting I said the following: Addressing only one factor, such as the increased medical insurance expenses, will not solve our county’s struggles surrounding employee retention and recruitment. Employees need livable, competitive wages.
Instead of receiving the pay raises we have continually asked for, we are instead being told to be grateful for the health care premium split while also being told our wages will remain the same for the next year. This comes after Department Heads, individuals who played a significant role in this proposal, received 40+% pay increases themselves.
Plumas County employees deserve better. We deserve to feel heard. We deserve to be respected. We deserve fair and competitive wages in addition to affordable health insurance. This starts with board members listening to the constituents they oversee, instead of sometimes texting during public comment or failing to look at the speaker while presenting. It starts with understanding the value of the services we provide and thinking about what this county will look like in the future when we have left. It needs to start now, before your employees are gone and this sinking ship is underwater.