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Aug
2013
15

Strikes Taking Place, Others Imminent, From CA to OR to PA

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A series of overlooked worker actions are taking place or developing across the country. We shed some light below…

200 union members are in the midst of a three-day strike in Hayward, California, demanding contract negotiations.  The SEIU 1021 workers have been asked to take salary concessions of five percent after giving up 12 percent in 2010.  

Some city workers, including firefighters, have agreed but SEIU 1021 says they do not make enough money as-is to make further concessions. They want the city to return to the negotiating table.  The city is now scrambling to continue services while workers man the picket lines:

For their part, city officials promised that services would be running as usual, and essential services, such as 911 dispatchers and wastewater treatment  plant employees, would not be on strike. City managers have brought in temporary workers and retirees to help out. Managers also said they’d be working double shifts.

At a Tuesday rally, also attended by BART workers,SEIU 1021 Lead Director Pete Castelli told the crowd:

“Since July 1, the City of Oakland has done a one-day strike, the BART workers did a four-day strike, and now Hayward workers are doing a three-day strike.  There’s something going on here. Workers are standing up and saying we’re not going to watch you hide money in your budget, hire managers, and put in it other places, and then dictate to us, ‘more austerity, more concessions, more cutbacks’ while refusing to negotiate.”

Senior Utility Leader Daryl Lockhart told the Tuesday crowd,

“We have drawn the line. This is the line.  No more concessions, no more bullying. It’s time to stand up. It’s time to let them know we are part of this city just like anybody else. Our back is against the wall. We come out swinging.”

Meanwhile, further North in Portland, Oregon, teachers are considering an unfair labor practice complaint with stalled negotiations of their own.  The two sides have met 10 times since April with little progress. Some issues have been hammered out but health insurance is the key factor delaying a new contract:

The district currently pays for 93 percent of a teacher’s health insurance premium, while the teacher picks up the remaining seven percent. Under the agreement proposed by the district, the district would cap its contribution at the current rate, which is about $1,430. The district already caps its contributions for non-represented employees and its unions for classified employees; custodians and nutrition services workers; maintenance workers; and bus drivers.

The Teachers Union notes that the school district provided them with a list of subjects which “were not open to negotiation.”  This has been a point of contention.  This list was presented by the District at a July 11th session:

The ninth bargaining session on Thursday at George Middle School got off to a tense start after the district’s director of labor relations, Brock Logan, presented teachers with a letter identifying portions of the union’s proposal that he believes are permissive and not subject to mandatory bargaining discussions. The list cited examples such as the union’s attempt to grant teachers more autonomy and prohibit the use of standardized tests to judge teacher effectiveness.

Logan called some of the subjects a distraction and suggested several topics within the union’s proposal did not belong in a collective bargaining agreement.

The 150-day bargaining timeline set forth by state law is fast approaching.

Across the country, a Pennsylvania teachers strike is “imminent” according to union officials in the Wyoming Area School District. The teachers have been without a contract for nearly four years.  During this time, teachers have not been granted annual raises.  

The drama could result in an extended summer vacation for students if the strike coincides with the beginning of the school year.

The union, which has threatened to walk out of school Sep. 3 if it doesn’t have a new contract, can strike for about 25 school days while still allowing for the state-mandated minimum of 180 school days by June 30, Dolman has said. The first day of school is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 28.

The union released the statement after a negotiations meeting between the two sides Tuesday that Dolman deemed “unproductive.”

“This contract should have been settled two or three years ago,” Dolman said in the release. “We have repeatedly made it clear to the school board that we are willing to bend but, we will not break.”

Remarkably, the Wyoming Area School District has been one of the top performing school districts in Luzerne County, a northeastern Pennsylvania county that is part of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre metropolitan region, during the contractless period.

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