San Jose city workers union strike vote looms, could create disruption to services

Dustin Dorsey Image
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
SJ city workers' strike could create disruption to services
Two unions representing 4,500 San Jose city workers are on the verge of voting for a strike that could drastically impact services.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A sticking point in back-and-forth labor negotiations between the City of San Jose and its employees may come to a head this week.

Despite rallies and mediation, two unions - MEF-AFSCME Local 101 and IFPTE Local 21 - that account for 4,500 city employees may vote for a strike that would impact many city services.

Tuesday, city employees with the Municipal Employees Federation Local 101 and The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 will vote on a strike that would be the largest San Jose has seen in 40 years.

MORE: SFO restaurant workers win raises, guaranteed health care in strike; back on the job Thursday

"We know our worth," San Jose Library Clerk Alyssa Mendoza said. "We are passionate about the services that we provide to the City of San Jose. We know that on the ground what our citizens expect of us. So, in order for us to go above and beyond to serve our community, we need that pay raise."

The 4,500 union city employees work at the airport, housing department, and city libraries - just some of the services where residents will see impacts if a strike occurs.

The city is offering a 5% raise in 2024 and 4% in 2025 and 3% in 2026.

Mendoza says it's simply not enough to survive in San Jose.

"I will be losing money," Mendoza said. "But it's for the greater good because we as San Jose city employees, we deserve to have the same amount of raises as our sister cities."

MORE: UPS reaches contract with 340,000 unionized workers, averting potentially calamitous strike

The San Jose City Council will have a closed-session meeting Tuesday to discuss any movement that may be possible.

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan wants to avoid what he considers a terrible situation for employees and residents. He says only one mediation session between the two groups has not been enough to reach an agreement.

"I do not want the city to be in a position where we over-extend ourselves and have to do lay-offs or cut services later," Mayor Mahan said. "It's not fair to workers and it's not fair to residents."

Both sides say they do not want a strike to happen for the good of everyone involved, but the unions want to see some movement in a positive direction before calling off the strike.

"We don't want to get to that but we deserve the pay that we need and deserve," Mendoza said.

"I'm really hoping that the city and our bargaining units can get back to mediation, talk through whatever creative solutions both sides can bring to the table and get to a resolution as we've done with all our other bargaining units," Mahan said.

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