Surprise Court Worker Strike Hobbles San Francisco Superior Courts
July 17, 2012 10:21 am
Citing a lack of financial information necessary for negotiating a new contract, 200 San Francisco court clerks and other workers staged an unexpected one-day walkout yesterday (the anniversary of the San Francisco General Strike of 1934), severely limiting proceedings in the San Francisco Superior Court system. The strikers, who are represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021, are striking to protest concessions being requested by the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC), an office they say has been plagued with fiscal mismanagement that workers are bearing the brunt of. Striking workers picketed the Hall of Justice, the Youth Guidance Center and the Civic Center Courthouse.
Courthouse workers overwhelmingly authorized the strike in May, citing fiscal waste on the part of the AOC. The union workers issued a statement on Monday’s strike:
For the past eight years, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the bureaucracy that manages California’s courts, has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on a boondoggle computer program, the hiring of hundreds of redundant six-figure-salaried bureaucrats, administrators and lawyers and overpriced mega-construction projects. In the meantime hundreds of courtrooms across the state have been closed, legal services for the public have been slashed, and we, the workers who provide those services, have been laid off, furloughed and had our wages cut.
Striking workers also cite October’s 70% layoff of court workers coupled with a $500 million expenditure for a scuttled court filing database system as examples of a disconnect between AOC’s finances and their willingness to fairly compensate personnel. The courts imposed a 5% paycut on the represented workers, effective July 1st, and court workers state that requests to examine the AOC’s budget have been summarily denied. From the SEIU press release:
When the Local 1021 asked San Francisco Superior Court management to open the books and show the financial need for the continuing cuts, they refused. When, as part of the bargaining process, the union requested they provide the financial information that federal law requires of them so the union can make reasonable and responsible counterproposals, in the court’s tradition of lack of transparency, they didn’t. Instead they abandoned negotiations and unilaterally imposed their cuts.
Workers apologized for the inconvenience of the strike — which affected juvenile, civil and probate proceedings — but stuck to their guns. From SF Weekly:
We are sorry for the inconvenience our action today causes. But there comes a time when someone must take a stand against this assault on citizens’ constitutional right of the access to justice, and for reasonable compensation for the court’s skilled and dedicated employees. Someone must say, ‘Enough is enough!’
Image from here