City workers vote to authorize San Jose's largest labor strike in over 4 decades

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Monday, August 7, 2023
City workers authorize San Jose's largest labor strike in 40 years
Two unions that account for nearly 4,500 San Jose city workers have voted to authorize a three-day strike as they ask for what they say is a livable wage.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Across San Jose, librarians, city planners, firefighters, airport workers and more have said enough is enough, when it comes to fighting for what they're calling a livable wage.

Ninety-nine percent of members from two different unions representing nearly 4,500 city workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.

"It's 22 years, I've never gotten to this point," David Nerhood, a San Jose Senior Financial Analyst said.

Nerhood, who has worked a number of positions with San Jose for 22 years now says he wants to see better wages and benefits to improve staff retention.

"Inevitably, I'd say this has been going on for 15 of the 22 years that I've been there, (city workers) just up and go, and at first, it hurt a lot and I was a little disappointed but then now that I know what's going on, it's because we just don't offer the same level of benefits and wages," Nerhood said. "We're losing institutional knowledge, we're bleeding it."

But this comes as a little less than 800 San Jose city worker jobs sit open, which is about a 12 percent vacancy rate, according to San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan.

The city is offering a 5% raise next year, followed by a 4% raise and a 3% raise in the following years.

Mahan says other services or jobs could face cuts if they go beyond 5%.

"I'm not opposed to paying workers more, I grew up in a union household, I know how much every dollar matters," Mahan said. "But we also don't want to be in a position where we're either over-committing and then doing layoffs in the next couple of years or, and this would be true if we go beyond 5 percent, cutting core services like library hours and police and fire staffing."

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