Sunnyvale city employees set to strike Monday
Union employees who have not received a raise from the City of Sunnyvale for over five years are set to strike Monday, which is also International Workers’ Day, officials from the Sunnyvale Employees Association announced Friday morning.
Critical public health and safety workers, including police, fire crews, paramedics, dispatchers and garbage collectors will remain on duty through the strike.
A number of other striking employees, including road service crews, will be on standby in case of emergency, according to union and city officials.
The library, community center and senior center will be limited to weekend-level staffing, city officials said. Counter service for city departments will be on strike.
The decision came Thursday after the union’s negotiating team, including an attorney and SEA president John Simontacchi, turned down the city’s final offer in a meeting with human resources director Teri Silva and Sunnyvale’s outside legal counsel, Charles Sakai.
At Thursday’s meeting, the city offered a one-time signing bonus with an average of almost $6,000 per employee and a revenue-based bonus in addition to the city’s offer of a 10 percent raise.
Union leaders, who are asking for a 14 percent raise but are open to new offers if they include an ongoing raise component, rejected that offer and scheduled the strike, which had been authorized by voting union members two days prior.
At that meeting Tuesday evening, 355 of the 361 members present voted to authorize the strike, according to lobbyist Dustin DeRollo, who is contracting with SEA.
The union represents more than 450 blue-collar and white-collar workers who operate the city’s Water Pollution Control Plant, maintain and operate the city’s storm sewer systems, inspect buildings and provide civilian support for the city’s Department of Public Safety.
About 423 of those members have voting privileges under union rules, DeRollo said.
Two other city employee unions, the Sunnyvale Public Safety Officers Association and the Sunnyvale Managers Association, sent letters in support of SEA receiving a fair contract to Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks and City Council earlier this month.
Both letters, dated April 6 and April 11, urged Hendricks and the council to finalize an equitable contract for SEA in order to avoid an employee strike.
SEA members have been working without a contract since the last Memorandum of Understanding with the city expired in 2015.
SEA president John Simontacchi said in a statement:
“Silicon Valley is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. … While a strike is a last resort, we need a contract that provides a family-supportable wage. Thus far, the city has refused to offer that.”
SEA members average more than $100,000 a year, but have not received the cost of living raises that the city has budgeted for since 2015 and is now refusing to pay.
“Members have been slipping badly behind the cost of living.”