Workers for the City of Santa Cruz are set to strike beginning Monday after rejecting a tentative agreement between their union and the city made Oct. 2.
Roughly 84% of the workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 521—whose jobs range from trash collection to water systems to parking facilities—said no to a 12% increase over three years and a one-time payment of $1,100.
Negotiations have been ongoing since early this year. Four of the City’s six employee groups have agreed to similar offers, City officials say.
SEIU told the City the strike would begin Oct. 17, and last through Oct. 21.
Chapter President Ken Bare said the workers want the City to improve working conditions.
“When my coworkers spoke out about our dangerous working conditions, the City responded with intimidation and retaliation,” he said. “These are the main reasons we are going on an (Unfair Labor Practices) strike—our members voted down the City’s deal for a long-term resolution to the City’s 14% vacancy rate, unsafe working conditions and workers living in poverty.”
Santa Cruz City Manager Matt Huffaker said the strike will result in “significant reductions in City services.”
All essential services, including police, fire, water, and sewer, will continue uninterrupted. However, there will be no trash collection and both the City’s landfill and recycling center will be closed. In addition, most libraries and City parks will be closed, and many recreation programs will be canceled.
“The City has worked hard to negotiate an agreement with SEIU,” Huffaker stated in a press release. “Our employees are hardworking and dedicated to their community. It’s unfortunate that the impacts of a strike will hit city residents hardest.”
The City made an identical announcement of an impending strike on Oct. 2, only to have the expected action canceled when both parties reached a tentative agreement.
It was unclear why the union rejected it. SEIU representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.
For information, visit cityofsantacruz.com/serviceimpacts.