RIVERSIDE, CA – City of Riverside employees represented by SEIU Local 721 voted with an overwhelming 97 percent margin to authorize an unfair labor practice strike that could impact more than 700 workers in essential jobs like wastewater collection, police dispatch, street maintenance, and more.
Workers voted to authorize the strike in response to bad faith negotiating by the City and unlawful attempts by Riverside officials to prevent union organizers from discussing negotiations with workers.
The strike authorization vote comes after more than two years of disrespect directed at Riverside employees by City management, as workers have endured unfilled positions, high turnover, grueling workloads and more than two years without a cost-of-living adjustment – all of this despite the essential services that these workers have provided to the Riverside community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, the City attempted to unlawfully furlough hundreds of workers early in the pandemic but reversed course and reached a settlement with the workers after an unfair labor practice charge was issued by the Public Employee Relations Board.
“We’ve been faithfully serving our community throughout the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were called heroes, but the City isn’t treating us like heroes,” said Frank Lee, a wastewater collection systems technician. “Most of us weren’t able to work remotely, we had to come in and get these tough jobs done to keep this city running. We deserve more respect than we’ve been shown and we’re willing to fight for it.”
The strike authorization vote doesn’t require the unit to strike but does authorize the elected bargaining committee to call for one. In the event that a strike is called, the union will provide advance notice to the City as courtesy.
“What the City is doing is completely uncalled for,” said Jennie Pauli, a police program coordinator and member of the union bargaining team. “We want them to sit down with us and make serious proposals to reach a fair contract. Instead, they’re engaging in union busting tactics and preventing us from exercising our rights. We don’t want to go on strike, but we will if we have to.”
City of Riverside workers are available for interviews.
CONTACT – Kyle Gregory – 213-595-2835