SEIU’s Local 1000 schedules a strike vote on May 15

It’s watch-and-wait time as the Schwarzenegger administration prepares to
release on May 12 the final version of its proposed 2006-07 budget. The
proposal is likely to exceed $127 billion and to contain billions of dollars
in unexpected tax receipts reflecting a strong economy.

Nobody is waiting for the May Revision more anxiously than the 85,000
members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1000, which
has been without a contract for nearly a year and has scheduled a strike
vote for May 15. The administration is expected to formally respond to the
union’s proposals on May 21.

Local 1000 is the single largest collection of unionized state workers, with
twice the membership of the next largest union, the California Correctional
Peace Officers Association. Local 1000’s nine bargaining units includes
printers, accountants, engineers, nurses and teaching assistants,
administrative workers, and job counselors.

The nine bargaining units of Local 1000 have been without a contract since
last June. Three series of bargaining meetings with Schwarzenegger’s
Department of Personnel Administration have collapsed. The union has
scheduled a strike vote for May 15.

Among other issues, the SEIU seeks a 5 percent pay increase, equities in job
classifications, revisions of mileage-reimbursement rules and pension
adjustments. Overall, the local seeks a package $400 million. The unexpected
surge in revenue gives budget watchers, including SEIU, hope that money will
be available.

“I am a little hopeful,” said Yvonne Walker, Local 1000’s vice president for
bargaining. “‘Optimistic’ is too big a word.”

SEIU negotiators–and others–have said Governor Schwarzenegger is not as
involved in labor negotiations as some past governors, including Govs. Gray
Davis, a Democrat, and Republican Pete Wilson.

“There is a need for the state to bargain in good faith. We’ve been
bargaining in good faith,” said SEIU chief negotiator Michael Baratz. “We
have the authority to negotiate, but they will give them [state negotiators]
no authority. He is not engaged in this, it’s as if he’s on the moon. He is
not hands on.”

The Department of Personnel (DPA) does not comment on negotiations. A
half-dozen proposals from DPA to other bargaining units have been posted on
the DPA’s Web site.

Meanwhile, The SEIU has scheduled a “Revise Rally” for next Monday on the
Capitol’s West steps. Some 3,000 SEIU members are expected to attend.

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