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Katy Grimes

Parents fighting for kids; SEIU fighting for more money

SACRAMENTO — A modest rally at the Capitol this morning supporting a state audit of Child Protective Services competed with a humongous rally held by the SEIU.

On the South steps of the Capitol, the CPS audit rally was made up of parents and families who are victims of overly aggressive Child Protective Services divisions.

On the West steps of the Capitol, the SEIU rally was made up of thousands of purple t-shirt-wearing SEIU members demanding raises. Their t-shirts were made up for today’s rally and said “2013 CONTRACT TOUR.” The back of the t-shirt said “YOUR CONTRACT STARTS WITH YOU,” and listed the cities for the SEIU “Townhall Circuit” for 2013 contract negotiations.

Yet what should have overshadowed the small gathering of emotional parents, did not. Although, the contrast was stark.

It was mothers and fathers who said their children had been stolen from them by Child Protective Services, versus well-compensated state employees balking at Gov. Jerry Brown telling SEIU and other labor unions currently embroiled in bargaining talks, that new labor contracts need to be “cost-neutral.”

SEIU members walking al around the Capitol said “we do not lead ‘cost-neutral’ lives, and we will not end this contract without money.” Apparently they were regurgitating what SEIU Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker just said this morning in a press release.

Walker said that Brown rejected a proposed pay increase across the board for Local 1000 members and nine other union proposals.

“It is clearer than ever that the most important thing members can do to win a better contract is to project power at our June 5 rally at the Capitol,” the local SEIU website says about today’s rally for the 2013 contract.

“Most of our bargaining team spent the afternoon visiting worksites in the Sacramento area to encourage members to attend our June 5 ‘I’m All In’ rally on the west steps of the state Capitol,” the SEIU website said.” Our bargaining team is making it a priority to go out to talk to members so they know how important it is to attend. If you haven’t already signed up, we need you to make it a priority to be at the June 5 ‘I’m All In’ rally.”

From big labor to big families

At the CPS rally, mothers cried as they told the growing crowd about having their babies snatched from their arms by CPS workers for no apparent reason.

I recently wrote a story about Anna and Alex Nikolayev who ran up against CPS — Sacramento family fights seizure of child by CPS.

Only a few weeks ago in Sacramento, the Nikolayev’s (pictured at right) took baby Samuel Nikolayev to Sutter Memorial Hospital with a high fever, and were told they couldn’t leave until they agreed to allow the hospital do open heart surgery on Samuel. The doctors and nurses became hostile and threatened to call CPS when the Nikolayev’s requested a second opinion. Samuel was born with a heart murmur, and may need surgery, but the fever had nothing to do with his condition, according to Anna.

Instead, after taking him to a second hospital and receiving a clean bill of health from another doctor, CPS and the police showed up at the Nikolayev’s home the following day and forcibly took Samuel from Anna Nikolayev, after assaulting her husband Alex.

Other horrific stories like the Nikolayev’s were told, before the rally moved into a hearing inside the Capitol.

And while the hearing was going on, the SEIU rally boomed through Capitol windows as speakers ginned up the crowd.

“Teachers understand not being respected,” Dean Vogel, President of the California Teachers Association, told the cheering crowd.

“We demand these freedoms, dignity and respect!” Yvonne Walker, president of the SEIU Local 1000, yelled to the crowd. “The fight is on!”

Around the corner on the South Steps of the Capitol, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly said the purpose of the CPS audit request was to ask the agency, “What are you doing with the power we have given you?”

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