Union leaders representing more than 3,000 Oakland city employees said Monday that they the workers will go on strike on Tuesday to protest what they allege are the city’s unfair labor practices.
Leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers said they offered to enter informal, pre-impasse mediation with the help of former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown but the city refused their offer.
Oakland city spokeswoman Karen Boyd and a spokesman for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the unions’ statement that they will go on strike because the city rejected their mediation offer.
In a statement on Friday night, the city said, “Due to significant staff shortages, a strike will force the city to close nearly every city facility starting on Tuesday morning.”
However, the city said sworn police and fire personnel won’t participate in a strike since they are represented by other unions.
Earlier Monday, SEIU Local 1021 chief negotiator Rob Szykowny said Local 1021 and other unions that represent city employees would be willing to
postpone a strike if the city agrees to give workers a 4 percent pay increase for one year and continue talking about an agreement for two additional years with Brown acting as a mediator.
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Schaaf didn’t comment earlier Monday on the possibility of a one-year deal and working with Brown as a mediator, but issued a statement in which she said, “We will continue to work hard to avert a strike.”
“We value our city employees and there is no doubt our workers deserve increased compensation. Yet the City of Oakland cannot offer more than it can afford, and it cannot come at the expense of the services we provide,” Schaaf said.
She said, “All city employees and residents deserve a financially stable and sustainable Oakland.”
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Szykowny said if employees go on strike, it would be because of what he described as “multiple unfair labor practices” by the city, workplace conditions, understaffing levels and cost of living concerns.
Szykowny said SEIU Local 1021 and other unions have been negotiating with the city for seven months but haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet.
Local 1021 represents more than 2,000 public works employees, parking enforcement officers, Head Start instructors, and early education teachers.
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Local 1021 spokesman Chris Flink said if that union goes on strike, IFPTE Local 21, which represents about 1,000 professional and technical employees, including engineers, building inspectors and planners, would engage in a sympathy strike.
In addition, 20 city employees who belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers would respect Local 1021’s picket lines, according to Flink.
Oakland city officials said in the statement they issued on Friday night that they made a “last, best and final offer” that includes wage increases of up to 6 percent over three years, including 4 percent for the first year of their proposed contract.
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The city said it also will continue to provide fully-paid family health care benefits and absorb all pension and health care-related rate increases.
SEIU Local 1021 conducted a half-day strike on Nov. 2 that shut down Oakland libraries, senior centers, child care programs, park and recreation centers and other city services.