Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County Employee Strike Could Happen Friday

Board of Supervisors given a 4 p.m. Thursday deadline to intervene

NBC Bay Area

Some 12,000 Santa Clara County workers are set to go on strike Friday unless the Board of Supervisors intervenes by 4 p.m. Thursday, according to the Service Employees International Union Local 521.

The strike would include 911 dispatchers, social workers, health and hospital workers, nurses, park workers, janitors, clerks and roads and maintenance workers -- among others -- represented by the SEIU.

"The county is proposing eliminating the wage increase for June 2020 that they included in their 'last, best and final' offer of 2019," said Janet Diaz, a patient services clerk at Valley Medical Center, in Sunday's statement. "This is not only illegal, but a deliberate attack on the livelihoods of workers who not only serve the public, but who are residents of this county.

"The Board of Supervisors must intervene to avoid a countywide strike set for this week," Diaz said.

This newest strike announcement comes nine months after the last contract covering "frontline" employees - those who routinely work directly with the public - expired July 17. The possible strike Friday would come after a 10-day strike in October, which was followed by voluntary mediation in November. In August, 97 percent of Local 521's members voted to authorize October's unfair labor practices strike; that vote also serves as authorization for this Friday's strike, if it happens, a union spokesman said Sunday night

Key issues, Local 521 leaders said, are short staffing and turnover resulting from low pay.

Until recently, it appeared that agreement was close but now the county is "moving backwards" by insisting on a new offer with roughly $110 million less in raises than what had been offered by the county in its contract offer of Oct. 15. "By eliminating a previously-offered raise of 3 percent in June 2020, the new proposal would cause the essential frontline workers -- already low paid - to fall even further behind others employed by the county," Sunday's release said.

Calls to Santa Clara County public information office were not immediately returned Sunday night.

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