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Tentative labor deal reached with 12,000 Santa Clara County workers, averts strike

PIX Now Morning Edition -- 7-28-2023
PIX Now Morning Edition -- 7-28-2023 08:04

SAN JOSE – A tentative labor deal has been reached between Santa Clara County and over 10,000 county workers, union officials said Friday.

According to SEIU Local 521, the deal includes a 13% general wage increase over three years, the largest increase in more than 20 years. Workers will also get a $1,200 one-time lump sum payment.

Union officials say the deal also includes equity raises and additional wage gains for positions that are behind market compensation, such as public health nurses, in an effort to address staffing shortages.

"This deal includes financial commitments that will begin to overcome staffing shortages, increase educational resources, and expands equity for lower-wage earners who are made up of most women of color," said Riko Mendez, the union's chief elected officer. "Our union stood firm in demanding a fair contract, new gains, and protections for our members and families in Santa Clara County."

In a separate statement, county executive James Williams lauded the deal, which he says impacts more than half of the county's workforce.

"This tentative agreement takes care of our dedicated staff and ensures that the County will be able to continue offering critical public services. It is a win-win for our employees and for the community that relies on the high-quality care and excellent services we offer to Santa Clara County residents," Williams said.

SEIU Local 521 represents 12,000 employees, including 911 dispatchers, social workers county hospital staff, and parks and roads staff, among others.

The deal averts a strike, which workers authorized last month. SEIU officials said Friday that workers will vote to ratify the new agreement in the next two weeks, followed by a formal ratification vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

While a deal has been reached with county workers, 4,000 employees with the City of San Jose could soon go on strike, after their contract expired in June.

The unions representing city employees are asking for a 7 percent salary increase for the 2023-24 fiscal year, followed by a 6 percent increase the following year and a 5 percent increase in the third year. They also seek eight weeks of family leave.

San Jose's counteroffer is a 5 percent increase in the first year, 4 percent in the second year, and 3 percent in the third year.

IFPTE Local 21 and MEF-AFSCME Local 10, which represents city employees, plans to hold a strike vote starting on August 1.

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