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Head Start Workers Picket In San Marcos Over Stalled Contract Talks

More than 200 Head Start employees march in San Marcos over stalled contract talks with the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee, March 24, 2015.
Matthew Bowler
More than 200 Head Start employees march in San Marcos over stalled contract talks with the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee, March 24, 2015.

Head Start Workers Picket In San Marcos Over Stalled Contract Talks
More than 200 union workers picketed over the contract negotiations with the nonprofit that runs Head Start programs in North County. Workers say a plan to raise their insurance costs will cut their pay to below minimum wage.

More than 200 members of the Service Employees International Union picketed in San Marcos Tuesday over stalled contract negotiations with the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee.

MAAC is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people get out of poverty. It is best known for running North County's Head Start early childhood education program.

Employees and management have been in contract talks for more than a year, with the cost of medical insurance the sticking point, according to the union.

Union members say if management raises the cost of insurance, it will cut their pay to below minimum wage.

Adela Martinez, who represents the San Diego MAAC union members, said management is not negotiating fairly. "I can only hope that I continue to work at MAAC as a proud MAAC employee and proud union employee. That they come and bargain a fair contract with us," she said.

MAAC President and CEO Arnulfo Manriquez said the nonprofit offers a good benefits package, and the strike is really about longtime employees fighting organizational evolution.

“When you look at the people that have been here for the longer time, that's where the challenge comes in and where the resistance to change occurs,” Manriquez said.

Head Start programs are continuing during the labor dispute, and no walkout has been called. Both sides say MAAC has never had a labor problem like this in its 50-year history, and they said they hoped to return to the negotiating table.

200 Head Start Employees Picket