Santa Clara County government’s largest union, Service Employees International Union Local 521, representing more than 12,000 workers, announced July 28 it had reached a tentative agreement on a labor contract providing an effective 13% in wage increases over three years.
The announcement came more than a month after the previous contract expired, when union members voted to authorize a strike, if necessary.
The county workers represented by the union will receive a 5% increase in their 2023-24 pay, followed by 4% raises in 2024-25 and 3% in 2025-26.
The tentative agreement averts a strike, which was authorized by Santa Clara County members in mid-June.
Santa Clara County members represented by SEIU Local 521 will vote to ratify the new agreement in the next two weeks, followed by a formal ratification vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
The union represents emergency dispatchers, social workers, county hospital staff, and parks and roads workers, among others.
In addition to the general wage increase, which the union said represents the biggest raises in two decades, the labor agreement also includes a $1,200 one-time lump sum payment, equity raises, and additional wage gains for positions.
The union negotiators had also sought improved working conditions they said were exacerbated by hundreds of vacancies.
“Securing pathways to expanding public service and care for the most vulnerable in our community was a major priority for our union members,” said Riko Mendez, SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer.
“This deal includes financial commitments that will begin to overcome staffing shortages, increase educational resources and expands equity for lower-wage earners who are made up of most women of color,” said Mendez in a statement.
He praised union negotiators for standing firm “in demanding a fair contract, new gains and protections for our members and families in Santa Clara County.”
“We still have work to do to grow our way out of the short staffing and turnover exacerbated by the pandemic, but because of the resiliency and commitment of frontline county workers, we secured one of the best deals in the history of Santa Clara County,” he said.
County Executive James Williams called the agreement a “win-win for our employees and for the community that relies on the high-quality care and excellent services we offer to Santa Clara County residents.”
“SEIU represents more than half the County workforce—public servants who show their commitment every day to serving and caring for our diverse community,” he said. “This tentative agreement takes care of our dedicated staff and ensures that the County will be able to continue offering critical public services.”