Oakland city workers suspend strike, continue negotiations

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Some 3,000 City of Oakland workers will be back on the job Tuesday as their labor unions suspend a strike. Mediation is still underway and workers could strike again if the union calls for it.

"I think the mediator has helped the parties in terms of reframing the issues and becoming more mentally flexible. At the same time, I think the last week with no services for the city is what helped change the City's tone," said Rob Szykowny, SEIU Chief Negotiator.

RELATED: Strike suspended as negotiations continue in Oakland

The union announced the strike suspension after a full day of negotiating with City of Oakland leaders and a neutral mediator.

"We did reach some additional agreements regarding working conditions. The nature of the mediation is still confidential," said Mayor Libby Schaaf, City of Oakland.

SEIU Local 1021 called for the strike seven days ago after negotiations over labor conditions and a new contract broke down. Several other unions representing city workers went out in solidarity.

Mayor Schaaf acknowledges the progress made, but maintains the city cannot spend money it doesn't have saying, "that fact that we are at impasse that our last, best, and final offer was given that fact remains." Schaaf points to rising pension costs and other financial obligations.

Some three-thousand workers refusing to cross picket lines stunted Oakland.

"We have no idea when we can open because we have a final inspection that was canceled," said Caitlyn Schleifer, a new small business owner. Schleifer needs an electrical and plumbing inspection before she can open Leading the Pack, a grooming and pet store on Shattuck Avenue.

RELATED: Oakland officials, unions agree to mediation amid strike

"We were hoping to open Friday of last week. I had a few regulars lined-up that were going to come see me and hopefully see the new space," said Schleifer. She said she understands both sides of the strike, but she's eager to open her doors to customers during the busy holiday season.

How long until the city can catch-up on the backlog of inspections and other work is unclear. Negotiations with a mediator, SEIU, and the city will resume next Monday.
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