Santa Clara County Makes New Offer to Union

Santa Clara County officials made a new offer to union negotiators with Service Employees International Union Local 521 Tuesday after a months-long stalemate and seven days of strikes.

The county on Tuesday offered union workers a 3 percent general wage increase if they decide to ratify the newly proposed contract with the county, with another 3 percent wage increase each year for the next four years.

The county also removed a prior request for union workers to contribute 2 percent of their premium toward the health care costs.

County Executive Jeffrey Smith said in a statement Tuesday that the county "proposed significant wage increases designed to keep their salaries highly competitive with those of other public servants in the region, while also protecting the stability of the county budget in the hopes of minimizing the impact of an economic downturn on our critical services and workforce."

Janet Diaz, union chapter president for SEIU Local 521, said in a statement that the county's proposal is "not by any means a tentative agreement on behalf of the workers of Santa Clara County," instead calling it "an attempt to force its employees to accept the same proposal put forth months ago."

"Their offer does nothing to address the 1,500 plus vacancies across the county impacting 911 dispatchers, social workers, health care providers and the thousands of dedicated county employees who ensure residents are protected, healthy and safe," Diaz said.

She added that the county's offer is "a clear message from the county that the interests of the community are not a priority. Our Santa Clara County bargaining team is discussing next steps and our recommendation to our membership."

Union employees first initiated strikes earlier this month after the county failed to address allegations of unfair labor practices when the county restructured its Department of Family and Children's Services without negotiating with SEIU Local 521.

The union has also been fighting for higher wages and new contracts.

Last week, the union reached its seventh day of strikes before postponing further strikes until after PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoff.

The union did not say whether they would resume strikes following the shutoffs.

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