Santa Clara Court Strike Headed to Mediation

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) — As Santa Clara County Superior Court clerks and janitors continue to strike, the hope of reconciliation emerged Wednesday in the form of news that the sides have agreed to mediation.
     Long a sticking point for the administration, whose representatives claimed no progress could be made without a third party, the two sides are set to enter into mediation on Thursday in San Jose.
     “Santa Clara County Superior Court and the Superior Court Professional Employees Association have agreed to mediation to help the parties resolve our differences,” the court said in a statement. “
     Wednesday marked the sixth day of the strike for clerical and janitorial workers who stopped coming to work this past Thursday, saying they have gone the past eight years without a raise in a community where housing costs have spiked sharply.
     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 the administration bake a second-year cost of living raise into the contract, saying they need it after so many years of frozen salaries.
     “A lot of our workers need to work two, even three jobs just to be able to live here,” union president Ingrid Stewart said earlier this week. “Others drive from 200 miles away just to get to work.”
     During the work stoppage, most of the court’s services, including records, small claims and other process-oriented aspects of the courts have been shuttered.
     Courthouse News witnessed long lines and angry denizens on Tuesday.
     Workers further say that they are angered by the court’s decisions to pay for what they perceive as frivolous extravagances, such as marble for the new Family Court, rather than investing in their workforce.
     “I just want to work for a place that treats its workers with respect,” said Perscilla Jauregui, a legal process clerk at the downtown Superior Court.

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