San Mateo County Workers' Union Plans Two-Day Strike

AFSCME Local 829 will hold a two-day strike on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, 2019.

Approximately 1,700 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union working for San Mateo County are planning a two-day strike Feb. 13 and 14 in protest of health care cuts and what they say are unfair wages.

The workers, members of AFSCME Local 829, work in numerous county departments. They voted 97 percent in favor of the two-day action after negotiations between the union and the county reached an impasse, a union press release said.

"These workers deserve fair wage and benefit increases that are consistent with neighboring counties and keep up with the cost of living," said Dina Fitch, a union member who works in the County's Welfare Fraud Investigation Unit, said in a union statement Thursday.

The county and the union have met 25 times over the past seven months without reaching an agreement.

The county has offered a 9 percent cost of living adjustment over three years, as well as additional increases for classifications substantially behind market-rate pay and/or experiencing worker recruitment and retention issues.

But union officials said San Mateo County's proposed increases fall far short of offsetting steep increases in health care costs, said union officials, adding that their members have given back tens of millions of dollars in wage concessions.

"We ... have agreed to every request the county has asked of us because we love our jobs and care about the services we provide to the people in our community," said AFSCME Local 829 Vice President Felipe Donaire, a social worker in Children Protective Services for San Mateo County. "What we're asking for is fairness."

The union contends the county can afford higher increases than it has proposed, asserting the county's unrestricted fund balance is relatively flush.

In a statement Friday, San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said, "The county's proposal is generous, fiscally responsible and in line with the agreements reached with other labor groups."

"It is my sincere hope that rather than strike, they can come back to the table and continue to negotiate in good faith," Callagy added.

During the strike, county workers intend to maintain essential services and will implement contingency plans to minimize service disruptions, Callagy said.