OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — After the first day of mediated negotiations with Oakland officials, striking city workers represented by SEIU 1021 and IFPTE 21 announced early Monday evening that they would return to work on Tuesday.
“Although we cannot discuss what occurred in mediation, the parties are speaking again and exchanging ideas across the table,” said Rob Szykowny, Chief negotiator for SEIU Local 1021. “The city has altered its position from its final ultimatum delivered last week. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
The suspension of the strike ends the walkout that began last week on December 5th.
Officials had already said negotiations were set to stretch into Monday evening as the Oakland officials and employees tried to come to terms.
President of the local SEIU chapter Felipe Cuevas, offered an update on union negotiations outside Oakland’s City Hall early Monday evening prior to the suspension that seemed hopeful.
“There are a few issues on the table that are kind of like complex,” said Cuevas. “And we’ve kind of been stuck on some of these issues for a while now. We have made some progress, and I find that promising. And we’re gonna try to keep going, while we’ve got a little bit of traction.”
The striking workers were on edge as another day goes by without pay.
“It’s difficult, I think, for all families,” said library assistant Janine Demanda. “Right now, it has been difficult in Oakland for quite some time for many families, including mine. ”
It may be a difficult holiday season for striking workers. They haven’t been paid in seven days.
The SEIU says they do have a strike fund to give people some money for time spent on the picket line, but that money is not distributed until the strike is over. Until then, the union keeps track of who shows up.
“There’s just a sign in sheet that has all the union members and you sign in next to your own name,” explained Demanda.
Demanda works as a part-time librarian. She says her husband works five part time jobs and one full time job. She does not want money from the union.
“Whatever strike pay I’m eligible for, whatever hardship pay I’m eligible for for having been out here for seven day now walking dozens of miles in a circle, that I would like that to go to other union families who may need it more than we do this winter,” said Demanda.
In addition to the SEIU, a union of about 1,000 technical workers is also striking. But a spokesperson tells KPIX 5 they do not have a strike fund.
Even unions that aren’t striking are showing support for the ones that are says Josie Camacho of the Alameda County Labor Council.
“The bus operators, ATU 192, the BART operators 1555. We had the firefighters from IAF 55. We had teachers last Friday from our Oakland schools,” said Camacho.
Union officials said that ending the strike does not require a vote. When employees authorized the strike, they gave the union leaders the power to suspend the strike as well.