Berkeley Citywide Strike Looms
To Date, More than 900 City of Berkeley Workers Have Authorized A Strike
(Berkeley, CA)—More than 400 hundred Berkeley city workers voted to authorize a strike if city administrators fail to reach an agreement with clerical and maintenance workers over safer working conditions and cost-of-living allowances. More than 400 librarians, public nurses, mental health professionals, and city planners and attorneys represented by SEIU 1021 voted on June 14 to join clerical and maintenance workers in a strike if necessary.
The strike authorization vote follows a 99% strike vote held on June 6 by clerical and maintenance workers whose contract with the City of Berkeley expires on midnight this Saturday, June 16. The strike date has yet to be announced but workers—including garbage, solid waste, and clerical staff—are ready strike as soon as their contract expires. Workers are demanding safer working conditions and cost-of-living adjustments that allow them to keep up with the rising cost of housing in the Bay Area.
“No worker should have to worry about being alive by the end of the shift,” said Danny Walker, Garbage Truck Driver and President of the Maintenance Chapter of SEIU 1021, “No worker in a city such as Berkeley should have to worry about having to choose between being able to put food on the table or have to live in streets.”
In the past week hundreds of Berkeley city workers have begun strike preparations, creating picket signs and planning locations for picket lines. The Alameda County Labor Council, representing over 135,000 union workers, has also authorized a strike sanction that calls on all union members in Alameda County not to cross picket lines in the event City of Berkeley workers go on strike.
Berkeley workers are calling for improvements in safety following the 2016 death of Johnny Tolliver, a Garbage Truck Driver. The City of Berkeley has been fined by Cal OSHA nearly $100,000 for the accident and the conditions surrounding the accident.
City workers have also filed charges against Berkeley managers alleging intimidation of workers, unlawful surveillance, and interference with employees’ protected right to protest.
“We’ve been spied on and threatened by City Administrators for protesting since the start of our contract negotiations,” said Rebecca Webb, customer service representative working in the 311 call center. “But Berkeley city workers won’t be intimidated and silenced when it comes to the issues that impacts the lives of those who rely on us and the services we provide.”