SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County Executive Jeffrey Smith says the county remains open to negotiations as union workers postponed their strike Thursday morning due to PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff.

County workers with Service Employees International Union Local 521 announced late Wednesday that they would postpone the strike, which started Oct. 2, until further notice because of the massive power shutoffs throughout the county and elsewhere in Northern California.

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“This emergency is a reminder of the vital role the county serves in our community,” Smith said in a statement. “This suspension of strike activity today was in keeping with this mission of public service.”

He added that the county “continues to be hopeful for a resolution that results in a fair, equitable and sustainable contract. We are ready to meet for the next round of negotiations as soon as SEIU leadership is ready and willing to meet with us.”

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The strikes were initiated as union workers are vying for new contracts, higher wages and for the county to address allegations of unfair labor practices after the county restructured its Department of Family and Children’s Services without bargaining with employees.

“Our decision to postpone all strike activities was taken out of our concern for public safety and our desire to fully support the needs of the residents who our members serve every single day,” Janet Diaz, SEIU Local 521 chapter president, said in a statement Thursday.

“Our decision to postpone work stoppage activities does not cancel our unfair labor practices strike; our members will remain ready to return to the picket lines at moment’s notice,” Diaz said.

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