Deal Reached to End|Santa Clara Court Strike

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) — The weeklong strike that has crippled the Santa Clara County Superior Court appears to be over, with the court, clerks and janitors reaching a tentative agreement on Friday.
     Joseph Macaluso, spokesman for the court, said the two sides have reached an agreement that will end the prolonged stalemate between court administration and its clerical and janitorial workers.
     “We are pleased to announce that the parties have come together to reach an agreement,” the court said in a statement.
     Ingrid Stewart, president of the Superior Court Professional Employees Association, told Courthouse News on Friday that while she has yet to see the final agreement she anticipates recommending that her members accept it.
     “We do have an agreement, but I need to see it before I comment on it further,” she said.
     If the members of her union do ratify the agreement at a vote slated for either Saturday or Sunday, the workers will be back at work on Monday and the court fully open.
     “We expect our employees will return to work on Monday and normal court operations will resume,” the court said in the statement.
     Stewart confirmed her members are ready to get back if the vote succeeds.
     “If we ratify the agreement that is one of the conditions,” Stewart said.
     Stewart said a second-year raise, one of the sticking points for those picketing, is predicated on the governor’s budget but will be forthcoming if certain conditions are met.
     She said she is not yet privy to other details of the final arrangement.
     Most of the services at the court in downtown San Jose have been shuttered, significantly snarling the administration of justice in a number of divisions including small clams, family court, civil court and records.
     The workers went on strike on Aug. 4, picketing in front of the Santa Clara Hall of Justice and saying they have gone without a raise for more than 8 years.
     The court administration has maintained that its offer of a 9.5 percent net increase for the present two-year contract should be sufficient, particularly as the court is cash-strapped due to a new state funding formula that requires larger courts to siphon dollars to less populous counties.
     However, the workers — who say they took several concessions during the Great Recession — have demanded that the administration bake a second-year cost of living raise into the contract, saying they need it after so many years of frozen salaries.

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