Citing unfair labor practices, unsafe workplace conditions, cost of living concerns, and increased staffing, 3,000 Oakland city employees are on strike today.
The planned strike—organized by SEIU Local 1021, which represents Oakland city workers—has shut down nearly all city services. Several government buildings are closed, and city programs cancelled.
City Council Committee meetings for December 5 have been cancelled, while Headstart and after school programs, recreation and senior centers, and public libraries are all closed.
However, the strike will not impact emergency services as police, fire and 911 dispatchers are reporting for work.
Happening now- Oakland employees are on the picket line in front of city hall. pic.twitter.com/pGiNoB7PLm— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) December 5, 2017
Yesterday, SEIU Local 1021 representatives proposed calling off the strike if city negotiators agreed to enter informal, pre-impasse mediation with former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown as mediator.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has said that the city has negotiated with the union in good faith for more than seven months, but more time is needed.
"We're continuing to ask city workers to at least allow us to have the opportunity to put their offer in front of the city council but we cannot do that until Wednesday afternoon," said Schaaf. "We are amenable to mediation with a party of our mutual choosing."
"I'm available and can convene the team within an hour," Rob Szykowny, the union's chief negotiator, told ABC7. "They have my number they can give me a call whenever they want."
In a statement released Monday evening, Schaaf called the scheduled strike "unlawful" and said it would harm residents.
"The union's decision to strike Tuesday will impact all Oakland residents, and particularly the most vulnerable populations," she said.
"We are disappointed the union leadership decided to strike because we are not at an impasse. We view this strike as unlawful, and will file an unfair labor practice charge," Schaaf added.
Sign posted at Oakland's City Hall. Workers on strike. pic.twitter.com/DALl6lTzXn— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) December 5, 2017
Union representatives expressed a desire to continue to negotiate and get back to work, but they also said that a strike may be necessary to point out how vital their work is to the city.
“Oakland workers want to go to work [today], but after working without a contract since June, and the city committing unfair labor practices in bargaining and towards our members at work, they are willing to strike," Szykowny said in a statement on the union's website.
"Furthermore, the city still refuses to prioritize the health and safety challenges facing Oakland residents and workers," Szykowny wrote.
Workers set up picket lines beginning at 7am throughout the city and at the Equipment Services Facility at City Hall. They will also protest at a fundraising event for Schaaf's re-election campaign later today.
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