County workers strike ends, still no agreement

in Community/Featured/Headline

San Mateo County says normal services resumed today following a two-day labor strike by Human Services Unit workers.

The unit of AFSCME Local 829, which represents 915 employees in departments including the Human Services Agency, Health, the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office, walked off the job on Tuesday and Wednesday to demand a better contract than what the county has offered.

Last week, a three-year labor agreement was ratified between the county and about 800 other employees, represented by 10 of the 11 county units of AFSCME Local 829.  The contract included a total 12-percent pay increase to keep up with cost of living adjustments.

The Human Services Unit said in a statement that it did not accept the contract, deciding to “keep fighting because, more than fair pay, they are demanding better working conditions.”

“It has a lot to do with caseload issues and the way our management has been working with us,” Felipe Donaire, a social worker, said in a union statement.

The unit says it is fighting for reduced caseloads; fair voluntary time off policy that takes into consideration the demanding jobs social services workers perform; the ability to telecommute for members who live long distances outside the county; fair overtime pay; and the need to address the county’s worker retention issue for key positions, which is causing San Mateo County to lose a number of qualified workers.

The County said it hopes the union representatives will reconsider its offer.

“We’ve come a long way in addressing many issues and we believe this offer that was accepted by 10 of the 11 representation units is generous and fair,” County Manager Mike Callagy said.

Aside from the 12 percent wage increase, the County’s offer includes longevity pay: 1 percent after the equivalent of five years of service and increased longevity pay of 1 percent at 10 and 20 years of service, and 2 percent at 25 years; and additional equity increase for specified classifications and other specialty pay based on market conditions. The county said it is also assembling an organization-wide labor management committee to review the County’s retiree health and additional benefits.

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