**UPDATE: The City of Salinas bargaining team stayed at the negotiations table for nearly 12 hours on Wednesday, April 5, but reached a tentative agreement with the City at 9:15pm! Check the City of Salinas chapter page for further updates, and thank you to everyone for your hard work and commitment!! Unite, Fight, WIN Together!
Salinas City workers have been negotiating a new contract for six months; for the past three months, they have been working without a contract, putting up with an absent City Manager, insulting delay tactics, and a City Council that refuses to invest in community services.
On the Tuesday, April 4, City Council meeting, Salinas city workers gathered outside of City Hall to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike if necessary, as well as cast a vote of “No Confidence” in their City Manager Ray Corpuz. Community members, including Monterey County employees, members of Teamsters Local 890 and members of the Central Labor Council joined Salinas City Workers to call on the City of Salinas to invest in their workforce.
At issue are demands ranging from expanding bilingual services offered to City residents, to providing a safe environment for employees and patrons in Salinas libraries, to respecting the high-skilled certifications required to provide community services in urban forestry, sanitation, wastewater maintenance and animal services.
“This City needs every single front-line worker to function. It needs every engineer, every inspector, every public works employee, every CSO, every librarian, every permit clerk. All of us together keep this City working, and it’s shameful that we’re not treated with the respect that we deserve. We’re not asking for the moon and the sky. We’re not asking to earn six figures, as management does. We’re asking for basic respect, dignity and equality. We’re asking for fairness.”
-Randy Casey, City of Salinas Assistant Engineer
During the recession, Salinas workers lost nearly a full year’s pay as a result of furloughs and delayed wage increases, while top City managers padded their salaries by cashing out tens of thousands annually, totaling $4.9 million from between 2011 and 2014. Employees are now preparing to vote to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike if necessary, in order make progress on several remaining bargaining issues that impact community services.
Demanding the Expansion of Bilingual Services to Provide Equal Access to the Public
Throughout negotiations, the City has refused to agree to expand bilingual certifications to frontline employees who must interact with and speak to the public on a day to day basis; whether it’s a librarian helping a resident use computer services, or it’s the City’s urban forestry crew asking residents to move their car in order to remove a fallen tree. With more than 69% of Salinas’ population native Spanish speakers, it would be impossible for many to access City services if City workers didn’t speak Spanish on the job. Bilingual compensation continues to be provided to managers in HR and Finance who do not speak directly with the public, while denying bilingual certification to employees who provide direct services.
Demanding Safety in Our Libraries: For Our Patrons and Our Employees
Contract negotiations have also reached a stalemate due to the City’s refusal to offer basic safety training and evacuation procedures to its library employees. Threats to Library employees and patrons have continued to increase, most notably reported in last September, when a man claiming to have a gun barricaded himself in the Steinbeck Library, or last November, when a library employee was threatened with a gun. The City’s refusal to address the need for basic safety training sends a clear message to both library employees and patrons: it does not value their safety.
View more photos from the April 4 action.
Watch our live footage of the civil disobedience and protest.
Read news articles by the Monterey Herald, the Monterey County Weekly and the Salinas Californian covering the protest at City Hall.
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