PRESS RELEASE – Nov. 4, 2019
On Thursday, Oct. 31, Santa Clara County and SEIU Local 521 agreed to enter voluntary mediation. As part of the agreement, SEIU Local 521 suspended voting on the County’s “Last, Best, and Final Offer” (“LBFO”), as well as suspended all work stoppages. The County will no longer be constrained by its “Last, Best, and Final Offer” during mediation. Additionally, the County has agreed to rescind its unilateral change to the sick, paid time off, and vacation leave policy.
“Our bargaining team believes that the Board of Supervisors and County would not have made this move if they didn’t want to reach a fair settlement. We are committed to working towards reaching a successful resolution during this mediation. If we can’t reach a fair settlement, we can and will exercise all our legal rights including our right to strike and to complete our vote on the County’s ‘LBFO,’ and publicizing the vote results,” said Janet Diaz, Santa Clara County Chapter President.
Santa Clara County workers represented by SEIU Local 521 have been without a contract since July 17, 2019. 97% percent of its members voted in August to authorize an unfair labor practice strike. County workers started to strike over unfair labor practices on October 2nd and for the first time in 40 years. The strike was in response to the County’s reorganization of the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) without discussing the changes with the employees who do the work. The County’s reorganization plan included the closure of the San Jose Family Resource Center and many other changes that would negatively impact families and the workers who serve them.
Following a civil disobedience on Sept. 19 and the strike, the County Board of Supervisors decided on Oct. 22 to postpone the closure of San Jose Family Resource Center pending further review for location options or potential stay by. The Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center (RAIC) is now separating children based on needs, a safety concern social workers had raised with the County for years. Francesca LeRúe, the DFCS Director who led the relocation effort of the SJFRC and unilateral changes to the DFCS, has since left her post.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 15, Santa Clara County’s management presented its “Last, Best, and Final Offer” (“LBFO”) to SEIU Local 521. Members turned out in record numbers starting on Oct. 22 to vote down the “LBFO” and escalated our campaign to address the unfair labor practice charges at the hospitals acquired by the County in March: O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, and De Paul Urgent Care Center. On Oct. 25, SEIU 521 members announced during a press conference at O’Connor Hospital that thousands of employees across the County were committed to striking to demand that the County stops committing unfair labor practices at the acquired hospitals that threaten patient care. The County’s illegal and unilateral changes in job requirements and working conditions have all contributed to a deteriorating situation for hospital workers that puts the health of underserved patients at risk.
Service Employees International Union, Local 521 represents 12,000 public-sector workers across Santa Clara County. Under a Community First vision, we are committed to making sure the needs of our community, and the vital services we provide our community, come first. We believe our communities thrive when residents, leaders and workers recognize that we are all in this together when it comes to our safety, health, and well-being.