ARC employees think union

Some employees at ARC of Butte County say they didn’t receive their paychecks on Jan. 10, due to poor management on the part of Executive Director Michael McGinnis, and have since voted to join a labor union in an effort to protect themselves.

Lynn Truax, a field representative for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said the ARC of Butte County failed to pay employees on the regular Jan. 10 pay date because of insufficient payroll funds. Truax said SEIU is currently trying to negotiate a contract between ARC and its employees.

The major complaint from employees was that they were being told they would have to wait until Jan. 13 to receive pay.

“It’s causing a great deal of financial burden on these employees,” Truax said, explaining that some employees were facing the possibility of bounced checks.

McGinnis said he has notified employees that he would cover any charges from their banks.

Truax said what has caused the delay in pay is that ARC doesn’t have its usual line of credit to cover the float period between the dates of the 10 and the 13 until its reimbursement from the Far Northern Regional Center (FNRC), a center that offers services for the mentally retarded and their families. He said McGinnis didn’t sufficiently explain the problem to employees.

Truax said employees of ARC now face the possibility of a deduction in wages.

Though McGinnis didn’t verify if there would be future layoffs, he said there would be a need to make changes in order to continue to operate.

McGinnis said it is the ongoing budgetary problems in the state of California that are putting him in a financial bind. He said the Board of Directors, through executive action, moved the date of pay from the 10th to the 13th of each month to compensate for the shortage in cash flow. He added that although operational costs continue to rise, ARC still receives the same rate of pay from FNRC.

“We haven’t had a change in the rate of pay from FNRC in four years,” McGinnis said.

Laura Larson, executive director at FNRC, said the financial problems McGinnis faces is nothing new in the state of California.

“This is not exclusive to ARC,” Larson said. “Reimbursement from FNRC is not covering the costs throughout the state.”

Some employees fear that joining a union will be met in a retaliatory manner from McGinnis. McGinnis said he has engaged in no anti-union campaign against his employees.

"Employees have a right to representation and we respect that decision," McGinnis said.