Update as of July 22:
The master tentative agreement and all bargaining units’ tentative agreements have been ratified affecting over 9,000 Santa Clara County workers. The next step is approval by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Today’s re-vote by the Social Services bargaining unit on its tentative agreement resulted in a “YES” vote, allowing the entire tentative agreement to be ratified.
The four-year agreement provides for annual wage increases of 4.5% the first year, and 3% annually the following three years, no increases to pension contributions, no increases to health care contributions, and no changes to health care plans with a re-opener on health care after the second year.
“We believe this was a good agreement that will help us recruit, retain and develop a first-rate workforce that the community deserves,” said John Sokolich, a social worker who was a member of the negotiations team. “There are other key issues that we will continue working with the county to address, such as improving caseload standards for our Social Service workers unit.”
For the Summary of Economic Achievements in the Tentative Agreement: http://521.seiu.org/sccomastertasummary
Update as of June 30: Hours before thousands of Santa Clara County workers were scheduled to walk off the job Tuesday, contract talks between Service Employees International Union Local 521 and the county produced a tentative agreement, and union leaders called off the 6 a.m. strike.
Read the press release.
June 25: It’s official. Over 9,000 Santa Clara County public workers overwhelmingly voted to go on an unfair practice strike on June 30. It will be an “open-ended” strike with no end date.
The announcement was made at a press conference on June 25 by members and community leaders at county headquarters. Workers from county departments including 9-1-1 County Communications (dispatchers), the Health and Hospital System (public health nurses, x-ray technicians, etc.), Social Services (child welfare workers, eligibility workers, etc.), along with other county workers were there in support of the decision to strike.
Watch videos of the press conference here: fb.com/SEIU521SantaClara/videos
“After years of recessionary cuts, Santa Clara County has fallen severely behind in key measurements of public health and safety… But instead of working with its front-line employees to end the crises of homelessness and a looming labor shortage, county management has chosen to intimidate workers and interfere in union business… We don’t want to strike, but the county left workers no other choice.”
– Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer, SEIU Local 521
The decision to strike was difficult but necessary to combat crises in the county that have gone unaddressed by leadership. Among them are mandatory overtime for 9-1-1 dispatchers that have led to high turnover and critical under-staffing, the lowest public health nurse-to-resident ratio in Silicon Valley, and social services shortages that result in instability for families in the child welfare system.
Community leaders also expressed their support at the press conference including: Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA; Ben Field, South Bay Labor Council; and Sandy Perry, Outreach Minister with Community Homeless Alliance Ministry.
“Our public workers provide medical and behavioral health care and access to social services to the homeless in Santa Clara County each day… The county has recognized we need a better plan to solve homelessness. Part of that plan should be to reinvest in our public workers so they can continue the valuable work they do on behalf of the most vulnerable in our community.”
– Sandy Perry, Outreach Minister with Community Homeless Alliance Ministry
Rather than working with members to solve the crises, the county has committed several unfair practices such as interfering in union business, unilaterally eliminating alternate work hours as a form of retaliation, singling out SEIU leaders with unfavorable reports, and unilaterally changing sick leave policies to scare workers out of striking.
See media coverage of the strike vote and announcement:
NBC Bay Area news article: http://bit.ly/1NkCQM9
Mercury News: http://bayareane.ws/1LIkxPL
San Jose Inside news article: http://bit.ly/1Kft4fY
KRON 4: http://bit.ly/1BPYYNq
NBC Bay Area news clip (1): http://on.fb.me/1eKaiQK
NBC Bay Area news clip (2): http://on.fb.me/1fHa4Kz
NBC Bay Area news clip (3): http://on.fb.me/1JajZCa
NBC Bay Area news clip (4): http://on.fb.me/1BHIOFm
CBS Bay Area news clip: http://on.fb.me/1QUaH3Y
FOX Bay Area news clip: http://on.fb.me/1CyPjFJ