Tough Talk As Hayward City Employees Hunker Down

Striking Hayward city employees assemble in front of City Hall Tuesday evening. PHOTO/Steven Tavares

HAYWARD//STRIKE | Members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, the same labor union involved in the dispute with BART management, say Hayward officials have failed to negotiate with the union since February. In July, the city declared an impasse in negotiations, which was followed by a strike vote, union members overwhelmingly approved. “Seven months ago, they said, this is our proposal,” said Linda Reid, a building permit technician in Hayward for 11 years. “And it’s been seven months of delay—take it or leave it.”

Hayward, like almost every city in Alameda County has navigated through budget shortfalls since 2008. In 2011, the city closed a $20 million shortfall primarily through concessions from city employees. However, Fran David, Hayward’s city manager has long held a firm line against the city’s union groups pushing for radical changes to the city’s structural debt. The union says it has given back 12 percent of wages over the past few years to help the city’s bottom line, while its membership cannot survive with another 5 percent cut, as proposed by the city.

“We have drawn the line,” said Daryl Lockhart, an SEIU Local 1021 leader at a noon rally Tuesday. “This is the line. We’re not taking no more concessions. When our backs are against the wall, we come out swinging. This is the first part of the swing, then there’s a belly blow, then there’s a chin check, then there’s a knockout.”

Management has not budged from offering the 280 street maintenance, water treatment and building permit employees a similar package agreed to this year by the firefighters union in Hayward. That deal called for no wages increases through 2015 and up to 17 percent to the cost of their pension. Steve Sommers, the lead negotiator for the union says management is ferreting away money, while refusing to discuss the pots of money the union says it knows exists. “This is the beginning of a long fight against lies and corruptions,” said Sommers. “You can’t take money out of here and put it there and say you don’t have money here. That’s what they’ve done. They did it before, they’re doing it now and it’s all lies.

Hayward’s Mayor Michael Sweeney and the entire City Council has distanced itself from the labor discord since the beginning of the year. However, as part of its annual list of council goals, it urged the city manager to bring the city’s finances in line. Sweeney, as former state assemblyman, is currently on vacation during the August recess. It’s a dichotomy union leaders sought to exploit Tuesday while vowing to flood the next Hayward City Council meeting next month with a “sea of [SEIU] purple shirts.” “At some point with the mayor lying on the beach somewhere and the city council on vacation, said Pete Castelli, an SEIU representative, “they’ve got to come home and that’s when are going to be held accountable.”

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