Santa Clara County, SEIU Reach 11th Hour Deal to Avoid Strike

Hours before thousands of workers planned to walk off the job, Santa Clara County's largest employee union reached a tentative four-year agreement after 72 straight hours of bargaining.

The 11th hour deal reached at 4:30am today came in time for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521 to call off the 6am strike. Members still have to vote on the contract, which also requires approval by the county Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Dave Cortese and SEIU 521 sent out tweets announcing the deal, which covers 9,000 of the county's 17,000 employees and represents 9-1-1 dispatchers, X-ray techs, nurses and social workers.

"We are pleased that after negotiating through much of the night, the County and SEIU were able to reach a tentative agreement," County Executive Jeff Smith said in a statement. "Although the agreement has to be ratified by its members, the strike has been averted and residents will be able to access all County services today and during the weeks ahead."

The county tried to block the strike by court injunction, but the Santa Clara County Superior Court on Monday deemed just 475 of the 9,000 union members as "essential employees" required to report to work.

Union members voted overwhelmingly last week to sanction the strike and rallied at the steps of the county headquarters to call attention to what they called unfair work practices, a looming labor shortage and the need for a wage increase to afford living in Silicon Valley.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. So SEIU uses their union dues to elect a Board of Supervisors indebted to the union, SEIU threatens to strike, the Board of Supervisors gives them what they want, and then everyone pretends they weren’t holding hands from the beginning? Watch as politicians take a victory lap to celebrate how “collaborative” they are. This is how true working people (and I’m not using that phrase to refer to a narrow constituency of unionized public employees) get screwed over by their elected representatives — because both sides of the bargaining table are representing the unions, and no one is representing the people.

    • Ummm…if county employees got what they wanted, they would have a living wage here. Sadly, that’s not the case. Please do your homework before making such blanket statements!

      • I should be grateful that my elected officials didn’t agree to pay all county employees $25/hour of MY money? What is with this idea that public employees are some special class of citizen that don’t just deserve a minimum wage, don’t just deserve a “prevailing wage”, but deserve something else an entire step above while they wait to retire at age 55 making a six figure pension? I didn’t used to feel this way about public sector unions, but what I have seen over the past few years has sickened me.

    • The current way of compensating government employees literally incentivises laziness. They have a base pay they’re not thrilled about, but a hard to resist pension plan for later in life. Each day they are watching the clock for time to punch out and counting the hours before retirement. Service suffers because of this. How many of you have encountered rude and incompetent government employees? That certainly happens in private business, but you can talk with your feet and take your business elsewhere. With government you have no recourse but to deal with the rude b*tch across the counter.

      What would it take to incentivize government workers to actually serve the people and introduce innovation in government? Higher base pay, perhaps. Pay for performance in a non-trivial way, more particularly. The promise of an early, lifetime pension and health benefits for holding out? Certainly not. One day, some leader in local government will have the courage to reinvent the way we do things.

      • YES! Pay our police according to the number of tickets they right and persons they arrest and thrown into jail!

        Now the only question is whether you will pay the officer to NOT write the ticket for the violation(s) you DIDN’T commit or NOT arrest you for the crime(s) you DIDN’T commit.

        Surely those lazy police will figure out that it’s far more lucrative and much less work to shake you down rather than go through the hassle of arresting you, booking you, completing the paperwork and eventually going to court…

        Oh wait you didnt mean apply your scheme to the police just non-safety staff?

        OK let’s pay librarians according to how quiet the library is (you can hear a pin drop when patrons are locked out) or how many books they check out check in, check out check in and reshelve per shift!

        Planning? Code enforcement? Pothole on your street fixed? No problem ,baby needs a new pair of shoes just pay up and your plans will be approved, the red tagb on your illegal addition will disappear and for just the right amount to your Councilman and Mayor your whole street just might get repaved!

        Yes, JSL you are brilliant in your longing for the good old days of “incentive pay” for government employees!

        • I once heard a manager tell a fellow employee about my former employer’s incentive plan:

          “If you do a good job, you get to keep your job until tomorrow.”

          It seemed to work.

        • Meyer Weed wrote: “OK let’s pay librarians according to how quiet the library is…” If that were the sole criterion, librarians would be paid zero, at least in the two branches I frequent—Willow Glen and Cambrian. When I was young, libraries were places for study, reading, and quiet reflection. If you spoke above a whisper you got a loud Shush!! from the librarian. It’s great that kids are exposed to libraries at younger ages these days. However, no-one has bothered to teach the kids, or more importantly their parents, the difference between a library and a park. The din of kids running around and screaming at the top of their lungs makes quiet reading impossible. At the Willow Glen Branch in particular, even some of the librarians are loud as they speak with patrons. There are a couple of “quiet rooms”, but the majority of these two branches has been turned over to a bunch of screaming urchins and their clueless parents. To those who use other branches: how about it folks, are your libraries filled with kids as unruly and undisciplined as they are at Willow Glen and Cambrian? To parents: it’s never too early to teach your little darlings about an inside voice versus an outside voice, and the difference in proper behavior between a park and a library. Don’t worry, their precious little psyches will survive…our generation’s did.

        • So, let’s say the mayor, and by extension the people, gave you the following desired outcomes:

          1. Reduce Incidents of Crime and Traffic Wrecks
          2. Increase Trust and Confidence in the SJPD
          3. Increase Feeling of Safety and Security
          4. Develop staff proficiency

          Setting goals at the executive level is the easy part. (On #2 I’d say you personally, Meyer, are failing, at least me, miserably.) Measuring the outcomes and training and reinforcing behaviors that drive the desired outcomes are the hard part. Can it be done? Yes, with the right leadership and recruiting. Giving traffic tickets and arresting people left and right won’t do it. Neither will increasing pensions. It requires a good attitude and innovative thinking. Winning back the trust of the public would go a long way by itself, but other incentives can certainly be put in place. But you have to be willing to throw out your preconceived notions of how things should be done, and be willing to do things differently.

      • “With government you have no recourse but to deal with the rude b*tch across the counter.” Don’t forget the rude b*stards. Let’s not be sexist here JSL. If you make a comment or a stink about the poor/slow service, your papers somehow get “lost.” Whenever I had to be in court on a case, if I had papers to file in another case, I’d take them to the Superior Court Clerk’s office to file them. Same thing if I was filing on the last day This was easy because my office was 3 blocks from the courthouse. The line was almost always long, but that meant nothing to the clerks. They moved at the same glacial pace no matter what. Most of them would spend more time chatting with the court runners who were filing multiple papers than actually working on entering the data onto their various screens. Under their union contract it’s virtually impossible to fire them, and incentive pay is disallowed. On the other hand, the calendar secretary clerks always worked hard, and kept chit-chat to a polite minimum. Everyone in a certain pay bracket gets virtually the same pay, regardless of how well or how poorly they perform. The sole criterion for getting a raise is the passage of time—new year equals more money. That’s the union way. Pretty communistic, actually.
        “What would it take to incentivize government workers to actually serve the people and introduce innovation in government? Higher base pay, perhaps.” For at least the last 30 years surveys of private sector employees have placed pay and benefits no higher than third or fourth position as work incentives. Job satisfaction, co-workers, and fair bosses almost always topped pay and benefits. Not true of far too many public employees. They are in it primarily, if not solely, for the pay, benefits, and pension. So, what is it exactly that makes some folks gravitate to public employment while others prefer private sector employment? Every few years I’d mentally kick myself for not joining the litigation department of a local jurisdiction when I was forty. Good pay, great benefits, lifetime medical, CALPERS defined benefit pension. But then I’d realize that I’d have been bored sh*tless, and resentful that some schlub who couldn’t take a simple case to trial successfully was making the same money and had the same benefits as I was getting.

  2. The US Supreme Court has effectively ruled that Arizona CANNOT ask voters to prove their U.S. citizenship. People can just say they are U.S. citizens “under penalty of perjury”. The net result is that ANYBODY can show up and vote in elections.

    It seems to me that the exact same standard can be applied to union elections.

    The actions of public employee unions affect public policies and the operations of state and local governments. The public has in interest in who is elected to union offices.

    Restricting participation in union elections to union members is discriminatory in the same way that restricting voting to U.S. citizens in Arizona is discriminatory.

    It’s time to allow ALL “stakeholders” in the community to vote in union elections. There is no justification for the local community to be held hostage by the narrow interests of union members.

    • Use of the word “stakeholder” should be banned forthwith. Anyone caught uttering or writing that word should be immediately drawn and quartered. That would eliminate most politicians and all bureaucrats, which would make life easier for the rest of us, and would strengthen the gene pool.

    • Sorry union members must prove their membership in order to be allowed to vote in union elections.

  3. You are welcome to join the Unions in order to vote on our Union business. We definitely welcome new members. (BTW, one latest survey shows Unions now is in popular trend especially among younger people. Go check it out.) Allowing non-members to vote? Did you pay your dues yet? Union members have absolute right to vote “no” if they disagree with going strike. Right to organize and right to strike are part of Democracy. If you don’t agree, you might want to give a try to live in those countries not allowing any dissent, and let us know how you feel.

    • Sounds like a pole tax to me.
      My old UAW union was very happy to check my union card, my employee ID, and my California drivers licence before voting, and in the same breath advocate no ID check at a public polling place.
      Tell me again as the country is being pushed over the cliff why we don’t need voter ID in a public election?

    • > Did you pay your dues yet?

      Haven’t the progressives told you yet that it is UNDEMOCRATIC to require people to pay taxes in order to have the “right to vote”?

      No way!

      No poll taxes! No play to pay! No voter ID’s.

      If union decisions and union demands affect the running of the city, the people need to have a voice.

      No backroom deals be between union officials and union owned politicians.

      • It is very simple you pay your union dues and gain the right to participate in union business. You may also elect not to pay and not join the union and fend for yourself ….

        • Sorry, Wheedle.

          Time for you to embrace change.

          Obama and Hillary were big enough to realize that they were on the wrong side of history.

          Time for you to do the same.

          Unions are shaping and deciding public public governance. The public demands a voice.

          It’s very simple. If the union wants a say so in the public’s business, the public wants a say so in the union’s business.

          I think the time has come for a ballot initiative.

          San Jose could be the first in the nation to put election of union officials on the ballot along with elections for city council members.

          It’s time.

    • The courts based on centuries worth of legal precedent agrees that the unions were right when they warned you measure B was largely illegal. The court decision will be certified in about 14 days and will effectively invalidate most of Measure B for Most City employees. Then the next round of expensive legal battles will begin. The City will spend more money, the union will spend more money…. the union will win and the City will be ordered (again) to cover the unions legal costs. But keep believing you won if it helps.

  4. If the Santa Clara County Superior Court deemed just 475 of the 9,000 SEIU union members as “essential” employees, that leaves the other 8,525 as “non-essential” employees. So let’s cut the waste. It is clear county government has too many non-essential employees with little else to do than sit around and keep track of their pensions.

  5. It isn’t anger Bubble brain it’s jealousy and envy. You wish you had what we have , the courage to run into burning buildings, hold our mud in gun fights, provide direct care and comfort for victims of crime and accidents, save your sorry ungrateful bitter petty self and so many others from the neighbor’s “too loud tv” and, and and FIRE WORKS on the 4th of July…

    Go a lhead bring it and when you do and if you succeed you better find a way to fight your own fires , render your own advanced first aid to yourself and loved ones (if you have any) and defend your own life and property cause your gonna need those skills.

    …and please (you or anyone else) don’t tell us that there are Vets out there willing to do the job for far less compensation because there are very few people much less Vets willing to take on the Job in San Jose for what it pays NOW and what the pension is NOW and the prospects of future promotion or assignment outside of a woefully understaffed patrol division is NOW.

    Try and have a Happy 4th while you ponder the future you so anxiously desire!

    • Please may I have a city job Meyer Weed,

      I just ran through the first 35 pages of 100 each employees City of San Jose and 30 pages of Santa Clara Co. employees.
      That’s 3500 and 3000 people respectively starting at $300,000 plus before reaching $69,000 a year job I made as privet sector employee and thought I was well paid.
      When I was laid of in 2010 I was told top pay was around $20 an hour by city employees.

      Having had training in law enforcement and firefighting CPR and 4 years active military service and 45 years skilled trades, power line specialists, industrial electrician and a machinist, with skills in crane and heavy equipment operator. I can also read and put away books, trim trees and run a lawnmower.
      Do you think I might qualify for something I’m 63 and willing to work overtime for a 6 figure job.

      Now my entire SS check and most of my pension are sucked up by County State and Federal taxes.
      Whats left goes to pay my Obama care with out a subsidy.
      We live on our savings!

      Who going to save us from the Government?

      • Sure empty gun under tier 2 retirement you might make more than you made in the private sector. Plus you have about 10 years before you would be manditorily put out to pasture. That said, fill out and app pass the background then the hiring board then hope City Hall thinks you’re worth hiring. All you have to next is show up to the academy on the first day pass the physical, academic and practical academy then to Field training ….

        Are you all you claim to be or as empty as your gun….

  6. At $33.00+ hr Trainee I’d be making as much as I was as a SR tec. Unfortunately at 63 and replaceable parts in my legs from on the job injures, I’m sure the interview will go the same way it has for the last 4 years. As most cops and firemen retire at 55, SNL might get a kick out of that interview.

    No Meyer Weed my point is there are tens of thousands of qualified and under employed sub 30 somethings are willing to work for lots less than I was making. Who do you think got my job?

    Being a cocky government class over paid employee shouldn’t guaranty a return to your job after you walk off in protest. The reason your spending to much time on the job is the city can’t afford to hire any more people because,
    government rule’s and taxes are choking the life of small businesses that are the back bone of and feed the economy
    you all feed off .

    Perhaps a big tax on “the government the class” to pay there own salary would work, but that would be the equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

    Now I’ve fired my bullets and my gun is empty, but I can reload and go another round if you like?

    • Excuses excuses…. so there are 10 of thousands… qualified… willing to work for what a police trainee makes?

      Where are they? Why is it that the City of San Jose has budgeted to hold 3 academies per year to accommodate 60 recruits per class yet the average class starts with fewer than 20?

      Like a said before if people were willing to do the job they would be applying. The fact is that those qualified applicants are not applying to work in San Jose… are they getting jobs at other higher paying police departments? I don’t know . What I do know is they are not applying to San Jose. I also know that an average of 4 trained officers are leaving SJPD EVER WEEK. Where are they going? To other higher paying departments!

      So it seems like the “those qualified and willing to work for less at San Jose” argument just doesn’t hold up.

      • Again Mt weed you have missed the point.

        93 million people in the United States between 16 and 67 most of whom have give up or taken an early retirement.

        I never said people won’t move on to a higher paying job given the opportunity.
        That’s called the free market. What I’m telling you is, we, as in We the People can no longer afford the crushing cost of the government we now have. The surrounding city’s and counties will also grind to a halt as this debt and reality over come them as well.

        Our national Debt is in the Tens of Trillions, our unfunded liability’s (that’s your pension and my SSI) 220 trillion that getting close to $700,000 per every person alive in this country today off the top of my head. My calculator doesn’t go that high.

        Our state the richest in the country is short hundreds of billions a year, but covered up by a lot of fancy double book keeping that would land any of the people in jail.
        $400 billion for the high speed train to no where. Are you kidding me?

        No Mr. Gun that’s for real!

        Cancel it it will keep you pension fund running another year!
        $500 million short fall in Santa Clara county.
        $100 million short if we go back to pre Reed spending in San Jose.

        Perhaps as great socialists all government employees should be paid the same as they do down Nicaragua.
        Police, doctors, and teachers, and other public servants all make top pay, $250 a month.
        Only drug dealer and party politician make more, nice company they keep.
        By the way there no unemployment insurance, no well fair, no food stamps, you don’t work you don’t eat.
        Your free health care cost is 25% of what ever you make. Veva La Revolution!
        That real socialism folks. It sucks!

        If we are not getting the people we need to replace the people in government, not just the PD but every place in government then you might start at the dizzying description of qualifications. I went back and read the SJPD description, that’s enough to send them running some were else, it’s a PR nightmare.

        I applied for a job in the water district two years ago, for a job that I have been doing for 40 years at the time. They literal told me I didn’t have the experience and would have go back to trade school.
        I found out later (in side info) the add is legally required to fill a position that was already made for someone that was already there. Seems that’s common even in he privet sector. Thanks for wasting my time!

        The layers of bureaucracy and perhaps the lousy education our kids are getting these day will only get them a start pushing a broom or carrying a rifle.

        It’s the layers of bureaucracy that that are chasing the taxpaying public out of Silicon Valley,California and the country replaced by giant government chosen corporations “The Winners” that donate money to the rite politicians that promise all kinds of pay and benefits to government unions and employees. That’s called unfunded liabilities.

        Now Mr Weed which successful model government would you like us to follow, Greece, Porto Rico, or Nicaragua?

        Want to go another round?

        • For the most part you make valid points that wrre not part of the original discussion.

          NO BODY wants to work for the City of San Jose. In any capacity – well I take that back you could d actually probably take a job with the private company the City contracts with to staff the Water Pollution Control Plant … you might make more there than if you were at call a City Employee working there and have better benefits and all the overtime or time off you want other than than NO ONE wants to work for the City of San Jose. The pay is below market for the same jobs in other cities/counties /state It has a long history of treating employees poorly and on and on and on.

          We heard from Chuck Reed and continue to hear from folks who drank and continue to drink his kool-aid that other cities will be crushed under the weight of pension obligations lime San Jose almost was… Reed is a liar,

          San Jose’s financial problems are very similar to Stockton ‘ s problems. San jose and Stockton through their redevelopment agencies bought lots and lots of real estate near or st the top of the last real estate market with BORROWED MONEY to be paid back with tax dollars. A THEN REAL estate bubble burst and property values tanked , the world economy took a nose dive and the Redevelopment agencies owned property that was worth far less than what was owed.

          San Jose’s RDA debt was over $4billion. In San Jose’s case they decided a multi Billion dollar renovation of San Jose Airport was a good idea under the “if you build it they will come ” school of business strategy … they built it Airlines left (some new came in) but still the airport runs completely and for now hopelessly in the RED.

          When Reed assess the City economy was going under and realized he was going to be blamed as an 8 year Board member of the RDA and 8 year President of the RDA and guy who reno”reno the airport he quickly looked for a scape goat… the police who “retire at 50 with 90% of their pay’ (something that I have proven many times is NOT POSSIBLE hence A LIE) and they make 6 figure salaries for doing nothing but writing little old ladies speeding tickets while murderers and rapist roam freely….

          Reality is the public misses all those lazy cops now that they are disappearing…

          Sam’s “doubling the Community Service Officers” ranks and expanding their authority will have little or no effect on the quality of life in SJ. You need police you need fire and to get them you have to pay it’s that simple.

          An empty gun is useless better load up

          • Well Mr Weed,
            I will certainly agree with you that governments shouldn’t be buying up real-estate speculating on land value all though at this time they should be siting pretty if they still have it. Sell it!

            The air port expansion was bungled decades ago when they failed to lengthen the runways for jumbo’s and privet money walked away sticking the taxpayers again.

            Then they bought into the light rail fiasco opening another money pit. I love rail roads every one should have a small one in his basement.

            Governments job defense of its territory and the people in it, delivering the mail and maintaining the roads and law and order.

            Police have certainly taken a beating this year from the White House and the news media, this is this is a federal government verses local government power grab, another over reach by out of control politicians trying to fundamentally change the country. Who wants to be tried in the media for doing his job?
            If I was an officer in Baltimore I’d be looking for a job in San Jose.

            That being said Mr Weed I’ll still take one of those 6 figure jobs, any openings in the armory?
            I can fix a Glock too!

  7. plenty of flocks to maintain…keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll probably hear Sam pushing to hire civilians to do the job which would put 3 more officers back in patrol to replace the 4 officers (average) who will leave this week… question is what position(s) will Sam want to civilian next week and the week after…? On second thought the armory job could be pretty short lived …just long enough to clean and pack for long term storage or return to the factory.

  8. Most PD’s farm the job out to local Gunsmiths that make about $10 per hour.
    See my comments on outsourcing government a week or so back!

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