California State Workers to Strike?

The SEIU is at an impasse in their contract negotiations with the State of California.

As you will recall, the SEIU was promising workers that they would fight for a 22 percent across the board pay raise for all state employees. This raise would be over a four year period beginning tomorrow, July first. 2 percent of this raise would go to employee retirement.

Today I learned that the state has offered a ten percent raise over four years (the same time period) with 3.5 percent going to employee retirement.

As you may recall from contact law, a condition of a valid contract is a “meeting of the minds”. Clearly the sides are far apart.

To add insult to injury—at least in the view of SEIU—the Governor already signed the budget. The new fiscal year does not have any part of a 22 percent state employee pay increase in it. In addition, the Governor has been predicting deficits in future years. (These future years just happen to be about four years in the future.)

A few minutes ago, the SEIU released a statement which reads in part:

After three months of bargaining in good faith, our negotiations with the state have reached a crossroads. In an era of healthy state finances, our bargaining team feels that the state’s offer does not meet the priorities that you shared with us through town halls and bargaining surveys.

The SEIU plan seems predictable at this point:
• First, hold a series of town hall meetings around the state to work up the frenzy of members to their cause
• Call for a strike authorization as a bargaining weapon
• Strike just before Labor Day

I think the SEIU is hoping that Brown’s diversion of money into the “rainy day fund” is in fact money that they can get from the state to make this pay increase happen.

Because of the SEIU backing of the statewide minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, anything less than a 22 percent wage increase will hurt much of their membership—especially at the rank-and-file level.