Hayward City Employees Prepare For Three-Day Strike

Striking Hayward city employees set to picket
in front of Hayward City Hall starting Tuesday.

HAYWARD//STRIKE | In Hayward, the confluence of an uncompromising city manager, a complacent City Council and city employees hoping for relief following three years of concession have led to a three-day strike set to begin Tuesday morning.

Two hundred eight members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 have been without a new contract since April. Union street maintenance crews, water treatment and animal control workers, along with library assistants approved a strike last June. Last week, negotiations with the city hit an impasse leading the union to make good on its threat to strike, starting 6 a.m., Tuesday. The union says it will hold solidarity rallies each day in front of Hayward City Hall at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.

On Monday, the city filed a complaint with the California Public Employees Relations Board against the union alleging it negotiated in bad faith. “We have continuously negotiated in good faith with SEIU Local 1021 since September of 2012; and are frustrated by the tactics utilized by Regional SEIU leadership that appear to be to the detriment of our Hayward employees,” said Hayward City Manager Fran David in a statement.

Hayward’s city leadership has maintained the union should follow other bargaining units in the city who, like firefighters, previously agreed to no wage increases through 2015 and paying up to 17 percent towards the cost of their pensions. SEIU Local 1021 last received a wage increase in 2010.

The city says it has replacement workers ready to take over union member’s shifts if the strike proceeds as planned.

In each of the past four budget years, Hayward has closed substantial budget deficits on the back of concessions from workers. In 2011, it closed a $20 million shortfall with city employees help. Again, in 2012, city employees help slash the expected deficit significant through concessions. The city, however, claimed last June, a slowly recovering economy still hasn’t closed its budget uncertainty.

As far back as 2011, Hayward’s city manager has stated a discernible hard stance against city employees. In a blog, hosted on the city’s Web site, David routinely railed against workers and urged greater changes to its structural deficit. David alluded to the refrain in Monday’s statement. “This is not a problem to be solved by more revenue:” she said, “it is a paradigm shift that must be addressed for the long-term health of our community and the security of our employees.”

SEIU Local 1021 says the city has avoided any tangible negotiations with the union since February. Gary Jimenez, vice president of Local 1012, says workers merely want to recoup some of the lost wages its gave back to the city over the past few years. “After losing more than 12 percent of their wages, these workers are expected to simply take what the city put on the table—amounting to another 5 percent loss–without substantive bargaining and with numerous [unfair labor practice] violations by the city,” he said .

Few members of the Hayward’s City Council have taken strong stances either for union membership or the city manager’s position. However, it has unanimously approved specific city goals to tamp down employee costs. The union chided Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney for being on vacation through the end of the month while the city faces an impending labor crisis, along with other council members taking off for the annual August recess.

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