Santa Clara Co. court workers planning strike say they haven't had a raise in 8 years

On Wednesday, hundreds of Superior Court clerks and employees will strike for the first time in 14 years, unhappy with labor negotiations. A group of them put the final touches on picket signs they'll be carrying outside San Jose's Hall of Justice.

"We haven't been without a raise for eight years," said Ingrid Stewart of the Superior Court Employees Association. "We are very frustrated with this court and them being unable to work with us so I think this frustration turns into action."

The threat of a strike is now a reality after labor negotiations fell through. The union, representing 300 clerks, janitors and legal researches is demanding better pay raises in high-priced Silicon Valley, saying they're underpaid and overworked.

"There's a little bit of uneasiness on what's going to happen," said Court Reporter Kimberly Johnson. "Everyone is trying to support each other."
Court officials scrambled with a contingency plan that includes limited staffing and assigning managers to clerical work. All of Santa Clara County's nine courts from Palo Alto to Morgan Hill are affected.

"I'm kind of upset about it," said Trina Barcus of Sunnyvale.

Barcus is concerned about filing paperwork on time for a criminal case and said if that doesn't happen, she could be going to jail.
Lawyers told clients Tuesday their cases may not be heard and trials could be delayed.

"We have no court tomorrow according to our judge," said Civil Attorney Paul Gumina. "He has our phone numbers. He will give us a call when he knows anything."

Court officials, in a statement to KTVU said, "The court values all its employees but firmly believes labor negotiations should be done on the table and not through the media." The union rejected its last offer as the county is facing a $5 million deficit.

Arraignments, bail hearings and any matters dealing with criminal justice and family law will take priority. The union said they plan to strike as long as it takes and will be at the Hall of Justice Wednesday all day starting at 7 a.m.