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SF Court Clerks Protest on Courthouse Steps

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Frustrated clerks demonstrated outside San Francisco Superior Court's criminal division Wednesday, ahead of today's contract talks with court administrators.

Around 50 court workers, dressed in purple and carrying union pickets, traversed the courthouse steps during their lunch breaks. Many had arrived on a charter bus from the Civic Center courthouse.

The crowd roared when Cynthia Karadi bellowed into a bullhorn that she was "pissed off."

"We're frustrated with a lack of compromise and willingness to come to the table and bargain fairly," said Karadi, who works as a criminal courtroom clerk and is on the bargaining team for Service Employees International Union 1021.

Court spokeswoman Ann Donlan declined to comment on the rally or the talks, but following a one-day strike last month the court's top boss called the unhappy clerks the highest-paid state court employees in California and told them to "be real."

Two years ago, San Francisco's clerks staged a one-day walkout to reverse a 5% pay cut the court had made as judicial budgets were being slashed across California. At the end of that showdown in 2012, the two sides agreed to a $3,500 bonus plus a 3 percent pay increase. Their contract also called for new wage discussions this year.

This go around the clerks have asked for a raise of between 2.5% and 5%, but union officials say the court has offered no money, just a couple of floating holidays.

What bothers the clerks, according to Karadi, is that the provision to reopen wage talks this year was placed in their current agreement by court negotiators. She said court officials claimed in the earlier bargaining in 2012 that budget uncertainties made bigger pay raises too risky.

"The budget is good now," she said, "For us, it's about keeping a promise."

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