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Union suspends Oakland strike after 7 days

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After seven days of striking, about 3,000 Oakland city employees will return to work Tuesday, union officials announced Monday evening.

Monday, Oakland city negotiators met with union representatives in the first mediation session since the strike began on Dec. 5.

Because of the strike, which includes members of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, all city services, programs and facilities were shutdown. Starting Tuesday, however, the city will resume normal operations, according to city officials.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement Monday evening:

“It’s been a tough week for Oakland. … I want to thank SEIU’s bargaining team for their commitment to the mediation process, and for bringing workers back to work in service of our community. I want Oaklanders to know how deeply I appreciate their patience during this disruption.”

SEIU 1021 City of Oakland chapter President Felipe Cuevas said in a statement Monday evening:

“The City Negotiators wasted a lot of time bargaining in bad faith. We met with David Weinberg, the mediator, and we’re moving forward and continuing talk with City Negotiators with his help. While we didn’t settle a contract tonight, City Negotiators have adopted a new tone and demonstrated flexibility and openness to continue negotiations.”

Over the weekend, union representatives and city negotiators agreed to try to settle the strike in mediation starting Monday.

Prior to that, Oakland leaders declared an impasse in the negotiations. Schaaf said Friday the unions rejected the city’s final offer and made a counter-offer that she said was “too financially risky” for the city to accept.

Schaaf said the unions have already had an 8 percent raise over the previous two years and the city is offering a 4 percent wage increase retroactive to July 1 and a possible 2 percent wage increase in June 2019, depending on growth in city revenue.

According to the union, the strike is not over wages but instead is to protest unfair labor practices by the city, workplace conditions, understaffing levels and cost of living concerns.

SEIU Local 1021 represents public works employees, parking enforcement officers, Head Start instructors and early education teachers while IFPTE Local 21 represents about 1,000 professional and technical employees, including engineers, building inspectors and planners.

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