SACRAMENTO (AP) — A state board that oversees labor relations asked a judge to prohibit California’s largest public-employee union from encouraging some of its members to participate in a one-day strike planned for Monday.
The Public Employment Relations Board acted Thursday in response to a request by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, which last month asked the board to seek an order blocking a strike by all 95,000 state workers who are members of the Service Employees International Union.
The board instead asked to block about 6,000 members of the local who are deemed essential to public health or safety. Those include nurses, cooks and janitors who work at state mental hospitals, prisons, veterans homes, care centers for the disabled and schools for the deaf and blind.
A hearing was scheduled for Friday afternoon.
The state will ask the judge to block a strike by all workers or, failing that, to add more employees to the list of essential personnel, said Joe DeAnda, a spokesman for the California Department of Human Resources.
A spokesman for the union, Mike Roth, said he could not immediately comment on the filing.
The state has offered the union a nearly 12 percent salary increase over four years, but SEIU officials say the 3 percent annual raises would be offset by a 3.5 percent employee contribution to retirees’ health care. The union says the state is flush with cash from a booming economy and can afford a larger raise.
State officials say the union’s contract prohibits a strike. The union says the no-strike provision doesn’t apply because the state has bargained in bad faith — a charge the state denies.
SEIU represents workers in nine of the state’s 21 bargaining units, including administrative staff, teachers, medical staff and printers. Their contract expired in July.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said both sides are doing what they feel is necessary to protect their interests, but he’d prefer they work out their differences at the negotiating table.
“Rather than have injunctions filed and have disputes that will be resolved in court, I’d rather have both parties at the table hammering out a deal through collective bargaining,” said Bonta, who is chairman of the Assembly committee that oversees employee compensation.
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