Frustrated with an employer that refuses to bargain in good faith, some 150 San Francisco court workers rallied on the front steps of the Hall of Justice on Sept. 10 to press their case.
With picket signs and chants, clappers and whistles, the crowd of SEIU 1021 members was (as usual) loud and festive. But the buttons nearly everyone was wearing — “I’ll strike for justice” — underscored their seriousness and determination.
The workers are in wage reopener talks in the third year of a three-year contract. Even though the court has acknowledged it has $16 million in reserves, negotiators for the administration have stated explicitly they have no intention of using a penny of it towards wages. Instead, as the reserve fund has ballooned from $11 million in March to $16 million in August, they keep finding another IT project or some room that needs new paint, carpets and chairs to spend the money on.
“They promised us they would respond to our latest proposal today,” Diane Williams, the SF Court chapter president and clerk at the Hall of Justice, told the crowd. She said the union bargaining team had given the employer two options: either a three-percent raise retroactive to July 1 or a 3.5-percent raise January 1, 2015. But no answer had come, and the silence spoke as loudly as their disrespect at the table.
Williams went on to introduce the bargaining team, those members who had volunteered to sit through hours of management’s arrogance to try to get some improvements for their co-workers. One of them, Cynthia Karadi, a courtroom clerk at the Hall of Justice, took the mic, her voice dripping with anger as she spoke for the group.
“We will be respected,” Karadi said. “We are not playing.”