Business & Economy

California state-worker union calls off Monday strike

File: David Matanga of Montebello, Calif., an SEIU 1000, state employee union member, center, shows concern while watching returns at an election night gathering opposing Proposition 75 sponsored by the L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005.
File: David Matanga of Montebello, Calif., an SEIU 1000, state employee union member, center, shows concern while watching returns at an election night gathering opposing Proposition 75 sponsored by the L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005.
Branimir Kvartuc/AP

California's largest public-employee union on Friday canceled a planned one-day strike, averting a potentially disruptive protest that would have kept up to 95,000 state employees off the job.

The Service Employees International Union Local 1000 said negotiators from the union and the state "both feel we have found a pathway forward."

"Our goal has never been to go on strike. It has always been to get a contract we can all be proud of," Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said in a note posted on the union's website. "We will provide constant updates throughout the day and into the night, if necessary. Stay tuned."

Walker did not offer details about the breakthrough that led to the cancellation.

Joe DeAnda, a spokesman for the California Department of Human Resources, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The decision came shortly after a judge earlier Friday declined to intervene in the labor dispute, postponing until Dec. 13 a decision on whether to block some union members from taking part in strike action as the state had requested.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei did not issue an injunction Friday in response to requests by the Public Employment Relations Board and Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, which last month asked the board to seek an order blocking a strike by all 95,000 state workers who are members of the Service Employees International Union.

Instead, he continued a hearing on the matter.

The board had sought to block about 6,000 members of the local who are deemed essential to public health or safety. Those include nurses, cooks and janitors who work at state mental hospitals, prisons, veterans homes, care centers for the disabled and schools for the deaf and blind.

The state sought to block a strike by all workers or, failing that, to add more employees to the list of essential personnel.

Attorneys for both sides declined to speak to reporters as they left the court proceeding, which was held behind closed doors.

The state has offered the union a nearly 12 percent salary increase over four years, but SEIU officials say the 3 percent annual raises would be offset by a 3.5 percent employee contribution to retirees' health care. The union says the state is flush with cash from a booming economy and can afford a larger raise.

While the talks are at an impasse over wages, the tensions Friday centered on whether workers have the right to take the one-day action.

Brown's administration says the strike is illegal and prohibited by the union's contract, which remains in effect while negotiators work on a new one.

Union officials say the no-strike provision doesn't apply if workers are protesting bad-faith bargaining. They accuse the administration of refusing to budge on compensation or to consider the union's proposals to address alleged gender pay inequities, as well as threatening to discipline workers who participate in a strike or picket line.

The administration says it has bargained in good faith and is committed to reaching a deal with the union.

This story has been updated.