'Shame on the Judges': Santa Clara County Court Clerks Strike For More Pay - NBC Bay Area
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'Shame on the Judges': Santa Clara County Court Clerks Strike For More Pay

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Carrying signs that read "Shame on the judges for allowing this to happen," and "Cost of Living Raise Year Two," Santa Clara County Superior Court clerks went on strike Wednesday, demanding that they get pay increases for more than just this year. Bob Redell reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016)

    Carrying signs that read "Shame on the judges for allowing this to happen," and "Cost of Living Raise Year Two," Santa Clara County Superior Court clerks went on strike Wednesday, demanding that they get pay increases for more than just this year.

    Most of the 380 clerks in the union showed up outside the San Jose Hall of Justice, chanting about what they feel is "labor abuse." Drivers honked in support and brought some of the protesters donuts. They were supported by high-profile players, including Max Zarzana, president of the Government Attorneys Association, who grabbed a bullhorn who told the clerks they should be treated with respect and deserve a living wage.

    It is the first time the Superior Court Professional Employees Association has ever gone on strike, organizers said.

    In response, court spokesman Joe Macaluso sent out this statement: "It's terribly unfortunate that it has come to this, which will surely impact access to justice." He said the court will do "everything it can to maintain essential operations and continue to serve the public in the face of this work stoppage."

    Santa Clara County Courthouses Brace For Impending Clerks StrikeSanta Clara County Courthouses Brace For Impending Clerks Strike

    The South Bay legal community is bracing for chaotic days ahead in county courthouses as Superior Court clerks go on strike Wednesday morning. Kris Sanchez reports.
    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016)

    Some of the court management's contingency plan included closing clerk offices in Morgan Hill, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, with limited services for the Hall of Justice.

    The strike, which could extend to Friday, is sure to impact virtually every facility in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, from criminal to traffic courts.

    "If people can't have their cases heard that are pending cases while they're in custody, they may have to be released from custody, which could create a public safety concern," Legal analyst Steven Clark said on Tuesday. "You may see the remaining court clerks or supervisors have to go over to criminal to stop the gap problem there. And all of the traffic and family type cases, all of which are important to the citizens, will be put on hold."

    People should expect long lines for proceedings such as requests for court records or other court files, the court said. Octavio Cervantes and Mohammed Hinosh, both showed up at the San Jose Hall of Justice on Wednesday morning, and both didn't pay their traffic tickets because no one was there to receive their payments. "It is what it is," Cervantes said, taking the inconvenience in stride.

    At the heart of the matter is pay.

    The Superior Court Professional Employees Association said many of its workers haven't had a pay raise in eight years, and they've been working without a contract for two years. They've been offered a 4.5 percent raise this year and last, along with an immediate 5 percent raise this year, all of which the union turned down. That's because they said they were not offered any raises in the year following this one.

    Union spokesman Tom Saggua said last week that no second-year increases was "unacceptable" to the roughly 400 employees involved in the strike. He said the top step of a union worker in Santa Clara County was $64,000 after 30 years, compared to a court clerk employee in San Francisco, who earns "north of $90,000." Saggau said he thought raises of up to 3 percent for the second year would be "fair and reasonable."

    Court management, however, has said it can't offer more pay because it is operating under a $5 million budget deficit.

    Below is the breakdown of limited services at each facility, according to the court's release. For more details, visit the court's website.

    • DTS/Old Court House (Civil/Probate) – Clerk’s Office will have limited services. Matters will be heard as staff is available.
    • Hall of Justice (Criminal) – Clerk’s Office will have limited services. Matters will be heard as staff is available.
    • Notre Dame Courthouse (Self Help/Child Support) – Self Help Center will remain closed as is the normal practice on Wednesdays. Clerk’s Office will be closed and customers will be redirected to Family Court located at Park Center Plaza. Matters will be heard as staff is available.
    • Morgan Hill (Criminal) – Clerk’s Office will be closed but a drop box will be available. Matters will be heard as staff is available.
    • Palo Alto (Criminal) – Clerk’s Office will be closed but a drop box will be available. Matters will be heard as staff is available.
    • Park Center Plaza (Family) – Clerk’s Office will have limited services. Matters will be heard as staff is available.
    • Santa Clara (Traffic) – Clerk’s Office will have limited services. Hearings will be taken up as staff is available.
    • Sunnyvale Courthouse (Family) – Clerk’s Office will be closed and customers will be redirected to Family Court located at Park Center Plaza. Matters will be heard as staff is available.
    • Terraine/Guadalupe (Drug & Mental Health/Juvenile Dependency) – Clerk’s Office will have limited services. Matters will be heard as staff is available.

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