Palo Alto Workers Primed for Strike

By Jessica Greene
|  Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009  |  Updated 2:15 PM PDT
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Palo Alto Workers Primed for Strike

AP

Workers in Palo Alto say they might still stage some sort of walkoff.

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Palo Alto city workers are on the job even though they made it clear that they are unhappy with conditions.

Nearly all of the city's SEIU members gave a thumbs up Tuesday night to reject an offer that would include scaling back health care and retirement benefits for about 600 members.

"At this time we feel it's in the community's best interest that we continue to serve residents," said Brian Ward, a utilities account representative and member of the workers' bargaining team. "We provide Palo Alto with top-quality services and we will continue to do so."

The proposal would cut $2.5 million from the city's $10 million budget deficit by requiring workers to pay an additional 6 percent toward their retirement and an additional 10 percent to cover medical costs.

Kelly Morariu, assistant to the city manager, said the proposal addresses the city's financial challenges.

"We presented what we think is a reasonable and fair contract to SEIU," Morariu said. "The proposal did not eliminate any jobs or benefits. We're asking them to contribute small amounts towards their medical premiums and retirements."

During the City Council meeting, the workers filled out questionnaires asking them whether they wanted to strike, stay on the job but demonstrate or just move on. Even if they don't strike, the workers could end up disrupting work days to fight for their rights by staging one-day walkoffs, protests outside City Hall or refusing to do work that's not defined by their job descriptions.

Union leaders say they will look at the results and decide the next step in the coming days.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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