SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Court workers returned to work Tuesday after staging a one-day strike that aimed to uncover budget information allegedly being shielded by Superior Court administrators.
Members of Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, walked off their jobs Monday morning, causing confusion and delays at both the civil and criminal divisions of the court.
“We showed we are serious,” union spokesman Steve Stallone said. “We showed we are united and strong.”
The walkout came after a 5 percent wage took effect on July 1. According to Court Executive Officer Michael Yuen, that mandatory concession was necessary to resolve budget cuts and “preserve access to justice to the greatest extent possible, while also saving Court employee jobs.”
Demanding access to the court’s financial data, Stallone said labor law entitles the union to see more information than the court has been willing to provide about its budget.
Without the information, the across-the-board wage cut is invalid, Stallone claimed.
A court spokeswoman was unavailable Tuesday morning, but she sent a press statement Monday afternoon in which Yuen is quoted as saying, “The court is committed to assuring that all essential functions proceed in spite of this misguided action by employees who are jeopardizing access to justice for their own unjustified reasons.”
But Stallone countered that statement today, saying prosters ‘really closed things down.”
“By lunch time, the judges had had it,” Stallone staid. “They just closed down the courtrooms.
“There was a very spirited and noisy picket line at both courts,” he added.
Asked why the strike didn’t continue, Stallone said the court’s workers are dedicated to helping the public. “We don’t want to close down the courts,” Stallone said. “But it’s not like we can’t do it again if we don’t get progress.”
Union members authorized the strike in May. Up to that point, union negotiators had met five times with court administrators, but the talks did not result in a deal to replace the labor agreement that expired in February.
Stallone said that participation by union members was high and that all but 14 of the roughly 225 members of Local 1021 walked out yesterday.
A union delegation reportedly spoke to Yuen on Monday and they agreed to a meeting on Wednesday.
Stallone said he expects members of other unions to support Local 1021 at a rally planned for Thursday.