EVERETT, Wash. (CN) - Dozens of Snohomish County court clerks surprised administrators by walking off the job Monday in a one-day strike to protest wages and job classifications.
The clerks have been working without a contract since 2014.
Members of the Snohomish County Clerks' Association, who staff the Snohomish County Superior Court and the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett, told passers-by they were paid less than other county workers.
According to the Everett Herald, the clerks want pay raises and updated job classifications that haven't changed in 15 years, which contribute to their lower salaries.
Union president Melody Stewart did not return an email sent Monday afternoon requesting comment.
"It's basically to get the county's attention, to say we're serious," Stewart told the Herald.
Management staff took some clerks' duties Monday, but family law facilitator appointments, protection order assistance and telephone services were canceled.
By law, the clerk's office must remain open while Superior Court is in session.
The clerks are "critical to court operations," County Clerk Sonya Kraski said in a statement.
"There have been rumors about a potential staff strike for some time, and unfortunately today it has come to that. There has been a longstanding pay issue impacting staff, which has not been resolved through labor negotiations," Kraski said.
"It's regrettable that an impasse in labor negotiations involving staff who are critical to court operations may have perpetuated this situation, and it is my desire that this be resolved quickly."
The Snohomish County Council ratified a new contract for members of Washington State Council of County and City Employees last week, but the clerks left that organization in 2005.
The council is still in contract negotiations with the clerks' union.
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