More than 3,000 Oakland city workers plan to strike Dec. 5

OAKLAND (BCN) City of Oakland officials alleged late this afternoon that a strike planned by about 3,000 city employees on Tuesday is unlawful because the parties have not reached an impasse.

The city said in a statement, "Under California law, both the City and its labor unions have a duty to bargain and to participate in statutory impasse procedures in good faith. The city cannot unilaterally implement concessions and the unions cannot strike until the completion of those 
processes, including fact-finding."

City officials said, "The parties are not at impasse, and the city has not yet had an opportunity to present the union's latest proposal to the City Council for consideration. The City Council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, which was the soonest legally possible."

Earlier this afternoon, leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers said they offered to enter informal, pre-impasse mediation with the help of former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown but the city refused their offer.

The city said, "Due to significant staff shortages, the strike will force the city to close nearly every city facility and program during the strike."

However, the city said sworn police and fire personnel won't participate in a strike, as they are represented by other unions.

The city also said it's prepared to address any public works emergencies if they arise.

SEIU Local 1021 chief negotiator Rob Szykowny said at a news conference in front of City Hall late this morning that Local 1021 and other unions that represent city employees would be willing to postpone a strike if the city agrees to give workers a 4 percent pay increase for one year and 
continue talking about an agreement for two additional years with Brown 
acting as a mediator.

Szykowny said the reason employees were threatening to go on strike is because of what he described as "multiple unfair labor practices" by the city, workplace conditions, understaffing levels and cost of living concerns.

Szykowny said Local 1021 and other unions have been negotiating with the city for seven months but haven't been able to reach an agreement yet.

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, will engage in a sympathy strike with SEIU Local 1021.

In addition, about 20 city employees who belong to Local 1245 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will respect Local 1021's picket lines.

City of Oakland officials said they made a "last, best and final offer" that includes wage increases of up to 6 percent over three years, including 4 percent for the first year of their proposed contract.

The city said it also offered to continue to provide fully-paid family healthcare benefits and absorb all pension and healthcare-related rate increases.

SEIU Local 1021 conducted a half-day strike on Nov. 2 which shut down Oakland libraries, senior centers, child care programs, park and recreation centers and other city services.

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