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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

San Francisco Court Workers Walk Off the Job Today (Update)

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 7:33 AM

click to enlarge Court workers vs. the Courts - FLICKR/FADDERURI
Update 11:17 a.m.: Superior Court spokeswoman Ann Donlan, tells us that the courts are only partially closed today. Despite the shortage of staff, the court is scrambling to move ahead on "priority cases" that includes criminal cases, such as restraining orders or those with statutory deadlines.

Original Story: Tired of "bad faith" negotiations, court workers have decided to go on strike in front of three superior courthouses this morning, in attempt to shutdown the system. 

That's not to say you're off the hook for those traffic tickets. 

SEIU 1021 court workers set up picket lines around San Francisco’s today at 6:30 a.m. with 98 percent of employees walking off the job. This was after the group filed charges with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board alleging that the Court, as their employer, has violated state labor laws by bargaining in bad faith.

We put in a call to Ann Donlan, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Superior Court system, to find out what this means for the rest of us who might need to take care of business at the courthouse today. No word back yet, but it's safe to assume you won't get much done today. 

Meanwhile, the union has launched the following complaint:

the court illegally refused to bargain over mandatory issues, withheld information from the union it is required to give so the union can bargain properly and threatened the jobs of union members at the table. An Unfair Labor Practice strike is a remedy state labor law provides unions in when employers violate their obligations under the law.
“Court management’s bad faith was on display not just in their actions at the bargaining table, but in their attitude," said Diane Williams, president of the San Francisco SEIU court chapter and a clerk in the traffic department at the Hall of Justice. “They just spent $16 million in their reserve fund and not only didn’t give their employees a raise, they didn’t restore any of the many and essential justice services they cut in the last five years. Isn’t that their mission?”

The San Francisco Court has endured years of budget cuts that have closed courtrooms and shortened hours of service to the public, if you hadn't noticed. The everyday effect of these budget cuts have been devastating: domestic abuse victims are waiting for restraining orders; child custody battles go unresolved; even chances to pay simple fines are restricted and huge late fees pile up, according to the union.

The union realizes today's actions are going to cause the public some extra grief, especially after already being delayed by yesterday's holiday. "We know our action today is causing you a real inconvenience and for that we apologize. This weighed  heavy in our decision to do it. We hope you will hear us out and understand our reasons," the union said in a statement. 

A press conference is scheduled for later this morning. Stay tuned for the next episode of court workers v. the courts. 

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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