Sonoma County CA Court Workers Go on Strike

CourtHouseSquare

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Sonoma County (CA) Superior Court workers have gone on strike after claiming contract negotiations broke down over pay and working conditions, as approximately 100 members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local No. 1021 carried picket signs and chanted slogans in front of the Hall of Justice in Santa Rosa, California, according to a report from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

The Press Democrat reports that the strike has caused delays at the courthouse as officials consolidated cases into fewer courtrooms, closed offices early, and canceled traffic court. SEIU Local No. 1021 leaders will decide whether or not to continue the strike, which comes after “several years of state budget cuts that have left positions unfilled, reduced window hours, and strained other court services for the public.”

(UPDATE: The Press Democat reports that Sonoma County Superior Court employees have continued to strike over stalled contract negotiations and are picketing outside the Hall of Justice to demand better pay and working conditions. The members of SEIU 1021 make up about half of all court employees. The strike has hampered court operations, caused delays in legal proceedings, and closed some courtrooms.)

A message on the Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma website (now gone) used to read as follows: DUE TO LABOR ACTION, COURT SERVICES WILL BE LIMITED AND DELAYED. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE THIS MAY CAUSE. TELEPHONE SERVICES WILL BE SUSPENDED DURING THIS TIME. CLERK OFFICE HOURS WILL BE FROM 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. YOU MAY USE DROP BOXES AT ANY TIME.

“There’s a heart-breaking reality that too many Sonoma County residents face when they come to the court,” Court Reporter Becky Peterson states in a blog posted on the SEUI Local 1021 website. “Proceedings are stalled, waiting for available staff from other court hearings to arrive. Our court system is in crisis—and anybody who relies on it or works in it is paying the price.”

The SEUI blog states: Court workers in Sonoma County witness the frustrations experienced by the public each day: long lines to file documents, delays to getting a court date to pay traffic tickets, and other access to justice issues. Court managers have failed to hire enough workers to serve the public, while wasting millions on excessive management salaries and multiple Case Management System software that is not functional.

Sonoma County Court employees – which include clerks, legal assistants, and court reporters – have been negotiating with Court Managers for a new contract since summer of 2016. While Managers have offered a 2 percent pay raise and a $500 stipend, the two sides cannot agree on more vacation time and a clause guaranteeing raises for all that other employees receive, the Press Democrat reports.

Sonoma County Court Strike May Cause Delays in Background Checks

The Sonoma County Court strike may cause delays in background checks for employment purposes since screening firms will most likely have a more difficult time obtaining criminal case information needed for background checks due to shortened office hours and fewer workers. For more ESR New blogs with information about court closures, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/court-closures/.

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