Santa Clara County workers went on strike early Wednesday morning for the first time in 40 years to protest unfair labor practices, according to Service Employees International Union officials.
Picket lines were scheduled to start for Local 521 at the Department of Family Service's San Jose Family Resource Center — which the county plans to close — at 6 a.m., SEIU officials said.
SEIU officials claim the county unilaterally restructured changes in the Department of Family and Children's Services without bargaining with employees, citing the county's decision to close San Jose Resource Center as one of the issues county employees aren't happy about.
"Unfair labor practices hurt public service workers and vulnerable workers they serve," said SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Office Riko Mendez in a statement. "Our members know that striking is a sacrifice, but as employees who have dedicated their lives to public service, they are ready to strike to protect children, seniors and low-income families."
County Executive Jeff Smith said the county and union disagree on the projection of future revenue, with Smith citing a potential economic downturn and slowing growth.
"Maintaining existing County services, making prudent spending decisions and agreeing on fair but sustainable union contracts is essential to the County's future fiscal health," Smith said in a statement.
Smith planned to provide an update on labor negotiations between the county and SEIU Local 521 at the county Sheriff's Office at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The work stoppage has affected the county's Department of Child Support Services, Facilities and Fleet Department, Roads and Airports Department, Social Services Agency Family Resource Center and Public Defender's Office, county leader said.
The SEIU, which represents 12,000 county workers in Santa Clara County, notified the county of its intent to strike last Thursday. The union said the strike doesn't have an end date.
A union news conference was scheduled to take place along the picket lines 11 a.m. Wednesday.