Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County Workers Vote Down Tentative Agreement That Prevented Strike

A tentative agreement that kept thousands of Santa Clara County workers from walking off the job last week was voted down by union members late Friday.

Service Employees International Union Local 521, which represents 9,000 county workers, said its negotiating team plans to meet this weekend to discuss their next step. The union refused to comment on the vote late Friday.

However, a statement posted to the SEIU 521 Facebook page late Friday noted "one bargaining unit voted 'NO' resulting in the entire tentative agreement being rejected." The post, which has since been removed, went on to say "at the present time, we are working without a contract."

"We are disappointed to learn that SEIU Local 521 has rejected the tentative agreement," Santa Clara County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith said in a statement. "The County is prepared to meet with SEIU in negotiations if the union is prepared to do so."

SEIU Local 521 employees had previously voted to strike on June 30, citing unfair labor practices, economic inequality, public safety, a labor shortage and other issues. That strike was averted at the last minute by the temporary agreement that has now been rejected.

The union represents workers from an array of county departments, including 9-1-1 dispatchers, public health nurses, x-ray technicians and child welfare workers. 

Union officials have said they want the county to address a 35 percent staff shortage within the 911 Communications Department, as well as a looming labor shortage where about 2,000 workers will reach retirement age in five years.

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