After nearly 20 hours of negotiations on Wednesday, February 26 and Thursday, February 27, Santa Clara County and the more than 12,000 public sector employees represented by SEIU Local 521 agreed on a landmark interim agreement. The deal is close to a district strike announced Sunday by county employees and follows nearly a year of ongoing negotiations, during which workers are on strike for the first time in 40 years. Santa Clara County and its largest union this week reached a new tentative agreement for new contracts ending months of heated and tense labor negotiations. But progress in those negotiations in November and December was crucial to securing the agreement announced Thursday, County Executive Jeff Smith said. Our negotiating committee, elected by the members, will be ready to work on an agreement that will benefit our employees, our families and our community. – New workers must work at least 15 years to qualify for health care for retirees. Under the previous agreement, employees would have had to work for ten years in order to qualify for the benefit. “We believe we have reached a fair agreement that protects important public services on the front lines and look forward to continuing to work with the county on the challenge of recruiting and retaining advanced workers,” said Karen Smit, a member of SEIU, a respiratory protection practitioner. Since the expiration of previous contracts, 521 seIU Local members had consistently appeared en masse to pressure elected officials to push the district administration on their behalf into a new competitive contract. Local mothers, fathers, hospital employees, domestic workers, social workers and more shared their stories and perspectives in dozens of public comment sessions. Among the highlights of the two-year agreement were, according to county employees: Santa Clara County and the union representing 12,000 employees reached an interim agreement late Thursday to avoid a strike after four days and nights of intense negotiations that lasted until the early hours of the morning. She added: “I don`t know if everyone is happy, but because of the nature of the negotiations, especially since it was with the largest union in the county, it was also a little more complex than probably a lot of other agreements that we`ve looked at or are watching right now, just because of the large number of people and all the different jobs they have.” Santa Clara County and a union representing nearly 12,000 county employees reached an interim wage agreement to avoid an extension of a strike that disrupted county services last fall.
“We are very proud to have been resilient and united in these negotiations,” Janet Diaz, President of SEIU Local 521, said in a statement. “As a result, we have an agreement that will really help us meet the needs of our families and the community we serve. This agreement allows us to begin rebuilding the long-standing partnership between management and our employees to ensure that Santa Clara County can be the best place to live, work and raise our families. BREAKING – After almost 20 hours of negotiations wednesday, February 26 and Thursday, February 27, we reached a historic interim agreement with @SCCgov to avoid the strike scheduled for Friday, February 28, #ProtectSantaClaraCounty pic.twitter.com/TKMfQbMkCL Our elected bargaining committee met with Jeff Smith, COO Miguel Marquez, CEO of Santa Clara County, COO Miguel Marquez and the management negotiation team on Monday, February 3 and Tuesday, February 4.