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Santa Clara County health care workers strike picks up second day momentum

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Hundreds of Santa Clara County health care workers walked off the job Thursday morning to join other county workers who are striking for a second day.

Union workers with Service Employees International Union Local 521 have for months been asking the county to address alleged unfair labor practices and understaffing throughout county offices.

Health care workers, including administrative staff, mental health providers, homeless program specialists and other staff, joined employees in other county departments who had started striking Wednesday.

Riko Mendez, SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer, said in a statement Thursday:

“When the county decided to unlawfully reorganize the Department of Family and Children’s Services without bargaining with the workers, it was a clear example that they were not interested in coming to an agreement that benefits our residents.”

County officials have said most facilities will remain open during the strike, although some services may be delayed, postponed or consolidated. An update on what services are affected can be found at www.sccgov.org/strikeupdate.

County Executive Jeffrey Smith said in a statement Thursday:

“The county’s priority is to continue to provide essential services to our community, not to make a profit. The county’s healthcare system and social services programs serve some of the most vulnerable residents in our community.”

Smith said:

“The county’s proposal for SEIU employees provides a fair wage and an equitable contract that will allow the county to sustain services for those who need them most.”

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