OAKLAND (CBS SF) – City of Oakland leaders declared an impasse Friday in their talks with about 3,000 workers who are in the fourth day of a strike.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in an interview that she still hopes that members of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 will accept the city’s last, best and final contract offer but if that fails she hopes they will agree to enter into mediation to resolve the labor dispute.
SEIU Local 1021 spokesman Chris Flink said late in the afternoon that the union is still considering its options and will release a statement Friday night.
But Flink said that for now the strike, which began on Tuesday, is continuing.
Union employees held a large rally in front of City Hall during the lunch hour Friday at which several local and state elected officials said they support the employees and urged the city to meet their demands.
A group of several hundred workers that gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza late Friday morning took the protest into the streets, marching onto Broadway and blocking traffic.
After staging a sit down protest in the middle of a downtown intersection, the group continued marching in the area around the Oakland City Hall.
Schaaf said that if the unions don’t accept the city’s offer to work with a state mediator it’s possible that they might request fact-finding, a non-binding process where an impartial third party listens to both sides and recommends a solution.
But Schaaf said that process would be lengthy and could take a year.
Schaaf also said it’s unclear whether union employees would remain on strike during mediation or fact-finding.
The mayor said the unions rejected the city’s final offer early Friday morning and made a counter-offer that she claimed is “too financially risky” for the city to accept.
Schaaf said the unions already have had an 8 percent raise over the previous two years and the city is offering a 4 percent wage increase retroactive to July 1 and a possible second 2 percent wage increase in June 2019, depending on growth in city revenue.
Union leaders say they called the strike to protest unfair labor practices by the city, workplace conditions, understaffing levels and cost of living concerns.
SEIU Local 1021 represents more than 2,000 public works employees, parking enforcement officers, Head Start instructors and early education teachers.
IFPTE Local 21, which represents about 1,000 professional and technical employees, including engineers, building inspectors and planners.
Schaaf said the strike has cost the city money because it hasn’t been able to collect parking fines and other revenues but she’s more concerned because “400 vulnerable families have lost child care services from Head Start” and because hundreds of families can’t take their children to the city’s recreation centers.
In addition, she said, “200 frail seniors aren’t getting their meal services.”
Schaaf said, “I’ve heard from many politicians on behalf of the unions but that has not swayed my position.”
She said, “I’m here to do my job for the city of Oakland and that’s what guides me.”
The city’s contract talks with the unions are now in their seventh month and Schaaf said the city has been meeting with them an average of four times a week in an effort to reach an agreement.
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