No talks as Oakland strike enters second day

About 3,000 Oakland city employees will go on strike for a second day Wednesday, as the workers say neither Mayor Libby Schaaf nor city administrators has reached out to them to resume negotiations.

According to union leaders, the employees are protesting the city’s use of part-time workers, staffing levels, cost of living concerns and workplace conditions.

Late Tuesday evening, city officials acknowledged that the strike will continue Wednesday and said it will be forced to close nearly every city facility and program until the strike concludes.

Programs and facilities that will be closed include Head Start and Early Start sites, senior centers, libraries, recreation centers and programs including after school programs, brown bag food distribution and Multipurpose Senior Service Program.

Additionally, the city’s Parking Citation Assistance Center, Housing Assistance Center, Business Assistance Center and Planning and Building Permit Counter will be closed.

Also, several city services will be unavailable, such as fire inspections, sales of paratransit and bus vouchers, building inspections, parking enforcement, street sweeping, public restrooms at city facilities, routine maintenance work and crime and traffic reports.

However, the Oakland Animal Shelter will be able to provide limited services, such as helping owners reclaim lost animals and residents who bring in stray or surrendered animals. Adoptions and licensing will be unavailable. Calls for emergency animal-related matters should be referred to police, city officials said.

Online city services will remain available, such as paying parking citations, reporting non-emergency problems and crimes, renewing residential parking permits and paying delinquent garbage bills, among other online services.

Sworn police and fire personnel, however, aren’t participating in the strike since they are represented by other unions.

Residents are being encouraged to stay up-to-date with strike related impacts by visiting www.oaklandnet.com, calling (510) 444-2489 or calling the facilities or main phone number of the departments or programs directly.

In a statement issued today, Schaaf said:

“I want to urge every Oakland resident to take the time to find out more about the issues underlying the strike by municipal workers. At its core is this critical issue: How do we sustain essential city services like road repair, libraries, parks, infrastructure improvements, and healthcare, while being fair to our workers?”

Schaaf continued:

“… I believe it is important to prudently balance wage increases that our employees deserve, in a way that does not lead to cuts and layoffs.”

On Monday, Schaaf alleged in a statement that the strike is unlawful because the city and the employee unions with which it has been negotiating for seven months are not at impasse:

“We view this strike as unlawful and will file an unfair labor practice charge.”

The largest union on strike is Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents more than 2,000 public works employees, parking enforcement officers, Head Start instructors, and early education teachers. International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, which represents about 1,000 professional and technical employees, including engineers, building inspectors and planners, is engaging in a sympathy strike with SEIU Local 1021.

In addition, about 20 city employees who belong to Local 1245 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are respecting Local 1021’s picket lines.

SEIU Local 1021 spokesman Chris Flink said the union believes its strike is legal because it’s an unfair labor practice strike, which he said is lawful and protected activity.

Flink said the strike will continue “until the city comes back to the bargaining table.”