MARTINEZ (KCBS)— An East Bay union borrowed a page from Hollywood to press for changes in wages and benefits on Tuesday. Union representatives were trying to get out in front of a contract that is set to expire in June of next year by co-opting a movie’s theme of what would happen without immigrant labor.

The film produced several years ago was called, “A Day without a Mexican.” Public Employees Union Local 1, which represents 2,300 workers in Contra Costa replaced that title with “A Day Without a County Local 1 Member.”

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KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

Pamela Brock, a county dental assistant, stated her case to the Board of Supervisors in Martinez. “A day without a registered dental assistant would mean patients with no dental coverage couldn’t be seen,” she said.

Brock added pregnant women, the community’s homeless and even patients with broken jaws to the list of those that would be turned away.

Brock and her fellow union members said wages are low and their contributions to benefits are high. They held up signs, reading “Value Us.”

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County supervisor Karen Mitchoff countered by saying union members in fact are valued.

“We do value you and sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but the paycheck is not the indication of your value,” Mitchoff said.

One union member said workers are taking home less than they did four years ago while they are required to do more.

While the union represents over two-thousand county employees, only 14 union members showed up in the board chamber. There was a time when that very chamber would be filled to overflowing with workers demanding changes.

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