OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A strike in which both sides have accused the other of unfair labor practices has ground municipal services to a halt in Oakland for the third day in a row Thursday, and city workers indicated it would continue for a fourth day Friday.
The City of Oakland made another offer to the unions representing city workers Thursday, but the unions’ chief negotiator said the latest contract proposal was not good enough.
A source told KPIX 5 the city was guaranteeing an additional one-percent wage increase in the second year of the contract, and if the city can afford it, it would give a total of two percent.
Previously, the city said it would give workers a two percent increase only if had the money, but there was no guarantee.
Both sides were meeting late afternoon Friday to try to strike a deal.
Earlier, city officials had said they’ve already made their “last, best final offer, while labor leaders from unions representing 3,000 striking city workers say the city has made “no significant movement to advance contract talks.”
The labor leaders with Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 said they’re were waiting on city officials to make a “real offer to bring the parties back to the table.”
City employees have been picketing at City Hall since 7 a.m. Thursday as part of a strike that started Tuesday.
So far, they’ve declined to move forward with a four percent wage increase being offered by the city, retroactively applied to July 1. That offer could also include a second two percent wage increase in June 2019, depending on growth in city revenue.
That offer would cost Oakland an extra $21.87 million over two years, or $22.11 million if revenue growth triggers the two percent wage increase in 2019, according to Oakland’s Finance Department.
Oakland city officials say they’re risking the creation of a $6.96 million deficit with that offer, and that measures taken to offset that deficit could adversely affect the city’s credit rating.
“We know that it is horrible that so many families and residents are impacted by this strike,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf Thursday. “But it will be more horrible if the city makes irresponsible financial decisions that will impact basic city services for the long term.”
Meanwhile, labor leaders say that understaffing, high turnover and positions being left open are leading to health and safety issues for the Oakland community associated with illegal dumping as well as mandatory overtime for emergency dispatchers.
Union workers also take issue with what they describe as the overuse of part-time workers, particularly in the libraries and the Parks and Recreation Department, where they say staffers go without benefits or common worker protections against problems like sexual harassment in the workplace.
In the meantime, the strike means some low-income families are feeling the financial pain.
“I depend on the little check that I do get,” said parent Jamaica Turner. “So if I miss a few hours, I know my check will be smaller than what it is. So it’s like either he’s not going to get a gift or this bill is not going to get paid.”
The strike has shut down all city-run Head Start facilities, which provide childcare for roughly 400 low-income families.
Almost all city services have shut down, except for fire and police.
No trash pickup means even more junk on sidewalks and in streets. Public works employees typically clear out illegal dumping and pick up trash at homeless encampments.