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City Issues "Last, Best, And Final" Offer - Union Calls for Strike Vote

On Wednesday, your bargaining team met with the City for what appears to be the last time. The City gave the Union its “Last, Best and Final” offer. It is a three-year agreement that would increase wages by 5%, 4%, and 3% each year. It contains no provision for the return of the 5% non-pensionable increase, no agreement on eight weeks of paid family leave, and no agreement to count PTO towards the calculation of overtime even when the OT is mandated. There was also no agreement on special increases for classifications despite earlier statements from the City that they wanted to focus on classifications with more than a 10% vacancy rate.

Currently, more than 25% of all classifications in the City have a vacancy rate of 25% or higher. Over 160 job classifications have a 10% or more vacancy rate. Nothing in the City’s “final offer” addresses the recruitment and retention issues and our crumbling public services, nor addresses those classifications whose vacancy rate puts our community at risk. This effectively puts at an impasse, and the Union will formally declare so in the coming days.

As we discussed last week at rallies at worksites across the city, agreeing to the City’s offer would only set us farther back and put us on track to have over 1,500 vacancies by the end of this contract. The fact is, other agencies in the Bay Area already pay far more than us, and many of those agencies have already agreed to wage and benefit increases larger than what the City is proposing. The Union is also aware that some of these agencies are close to reaching agreements with their employee Unions that will make San Jose’s proposal even further behind that which is needed to restore vital services to our residents.

So, What’s Next?

It’s clear the only thing that’s going to move the needle now and get our staffing levels and service delivery back to an acceptable level is a credible strike threat. That’s why your bargaining team and Union leadership is recommending we move forward with calling for a vote of our membership to strike the City of San Jose.

We know many of you are ready to strike now. We’re with you. It’s vital, however, that we take the time necessary to educate all union members about what a strike is and do the work needed to ensure that if we actually have to strike, it is successful. Here are the immediate next steps that need to happen:

1) Soon, the Union will post a “Strike FAQ” on our website about our legal right to strike and answer some of the most common questions about striking so Union members can begin to prepare. We’ll also distribute hard copies of the FAQ at every worksite in the City.

2) We’re asking everyone to sign the “I AM Ready to Strike!” petition.

3) The Union(s) are going to hold a “Strike School” sometime in early July to do a deeper dive into strike planning, nominate strike captains from each of your worksites, get more of your questions answered, and more.

4) Strike authorization vote. Only by a vote of Union members can a strike be authorized. Once it’s time, the Union will hold a vote and ensure that all union members get the opportunity to vote on approving the strike.

5) While we go through the process outlined above, your bargaining team will explore every possible avenue of potential settlement that doesn’t budge on our central goals of filling vacancies and restoring vital public services. The Union bargaining team is considering all options to get the City to move to accept our proposal, including various impasse procedures outlined in the law that may be beneficial, like mediation and fact-finding.

Strikes are labor’s most powerful tool and should only be used when absolutely necessary. It’s our hope that by showing the City we are capable and willing to strike, the City’s leaders will do what is needed to avert a strike. If they don’t, we know we have the momentum and people power to win for ourselves and our community. Have a great Juneteenth Holiday weekend!

In Solidarity, Your MEF Bargaining Team


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