County workers in South Bay rally, demand County Board of Supervisors invest in Public Services

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Building a better Bay Area can be a more difficult task for those forced out of the area, unable to afford living here.

In the South Bay, Santa Clara County workers spent their Wednesday evening rallying outside the County Government Center on West Hedding in San Jose.

The hundreds in attendance demanded the County Board of Supervisors invest in them.

"We want to be here. We want to provide a service. So let us do the job," Carla Torres-DeLuna told ABC7 News. "Help us be here and do the job."

Torres-DeLuna said she's a Social Work supervisor with Santa Clara County's Department of Family and Children's Services.

She was one of many who met in the courtyard outside Board chambers on Wednesday, dressed in purple. SEIU Local 521 organized a rally in an attempt to get the Board's attention.

As the Board continues with budget hearings, county workers say they're concerned not enough is being done to address the cost-of-living and affordable housing crises.

"In the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the largest concentrations of wealth in the world, people are suffering," a rally press release read.

Many told ABC7 News, problems are impacting residents and workers.

"We're talking about workers that are at Valley Medical Center. We're talking about workers that are at here at Probation. We're talking about workers that are with Roads and Airports. We're talking about those frontline clerical staff that greets you at county buildings," Torres-DeLuna explained. "We're talking about Social Workers, Eligibility Workers that provide the basic needs to families- those are the workers we're talking about."

People who provide these essential services said, like many across the Bay Area, they're struggling too.

"I had to move my dad down from Stockton to help take care of my son," Lilia Jacobo told ABC7 News. "Make sure he was an in-home support worker and had all the necessary certificates, just so I could put my son in childcare part-time."

Jacobo is a single mother. She pays $12,000 a year for childcare for her son with adaptive needs.

Also making the list of demands by County workers is transparency.

SEIU Local 521 said in order to build a better Bay Area, County management and Supervisors should provide an accurate picture of its budget.

"The County keeps pushing back and saying they don't have the money," Jacobo said. "Which, this is one of the richest counties, we have the money!"

SEIU Local 521 made public its initial analysis of the County's budgeting practices. They claim the county is routinely bringing in tens of millions of dollars more than it's spending.

Their findings suggest the County is on track to add nearly $63-million more to the General Fund this fiscal year alone.

County workers want to see more of that money invested in Public Services.

You can read the union's analysis here. The SEIU Local 521 said the document has been shared with the Board and at the bargaining table with County management.

Beyond their own struggles, County employees pointed to the impact to quality of services.

"If we don't have the money or the means to recruit staff, then it's hard to be able to provide those essential services," Social Work supervisor, Torres-DeLuna added.

ABC7 News reached out to the County Board of Supervisors and other County offices for comment. This web article will be updated to reflect any additional information provided by the County of Santa Clara.

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