Workers at Santa Clara County superior court entered the third day of their strike on Friday, protesting, among other things, management’s failure to offer a reasonable raise. The workers have not seen a raise or cost of living adjustment in eight years, and while the current offer would give a 9.5% raise to some employees, 12% would receive only a 4.5% net raise. This amount is insufficient to help struggling clerks, janitors, and other court employees make ends meet in one of the most expensive areas in the country, especially given the amount of time these workers have spent without raises at all. ABC7, reporting on the strike, highlighted the discrepancies between clerk pay and the cost of living by sharing the story of one woman who works at the court but lives at a homeless shelter:
I have to leave the current shelter I’m at in a few weeks, and I have nowhere else to go right now. It’s just been so discouraging because I can’t find a place to live.
The initial strike vote was cast on July 27th, but the strike only began on Wednesday.
The Superior Court Professional Employees Association, the union involved in this bargaining, pointed out how unfair the offer is in light of a recent $200 million spent on a new courthouse.
Another concern is the heavy workload SCPEA members have faced as a result of layoffs. According to Mercury News:
The court also has lost about a third of its staff through attrition since the economy tanked in 2008, and clerks say they cannot keep up with what has become an overwhelming amount of data processing, filing and phone calls and visits from the public.
An email sent out to SCPEA membership immediately before the strike also mentioned unsafe work conditions and reduced hours, accusing the court of “short changing the public.”
The court workers may not be valued enough to receive fair compensation for their work, but the courts have quickly seen their importance for day to day operations as the strike continues.
Since the strike began Wednesday, Santa Clara County court administrators have struggled to maintain essential legal services at 11 courthouses without about 300 employees who have been on the picket line …
All but essential hearings have been postponed and seven clerk’s offices have been closed since Wednesday because of the court’s first strike in 14 years.
The SCPEA has started a GoFundMe for their strike fund. Please consider a donation. As the GoFundMe creators write,
Some of us are homeless, some are couch surfing and others are leasing portions of our homes to make ends meet. We work in the Silicon Valley where the cost of living keeps going up and inflation has eaten away at our pay.
Our union is strong, we are united and our cause is righteous. But our union is also young. We have not been able to build a strike fund and many of our members are living pay check to pay check. Yet over 310 of our members chose to stand up for themselves and fight for dignity and we are asking our friends to stand up for us as well.
Never cross a picket line!