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Looming strike in San Luis Obispo County could affect county services

Posted at 5:42 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Next month, some services in San Luis Obispo County might be slower than usual because the county’s largest employee union is threatening a strike.

It’s a first for San Luis Obispo County.

“We’ve never had to prepare for a strike before,” said Devin Drake, San Luis Obispo County Director of Social Services.

Now Drake is getting ready in case employees cross the picket line.

“We’ve put together a list of essential individuals and that list has been submitted,” Drake explained. “The union has accepted that list.”

One thing the County and San Luis Obispo County Employees’ Association have agreed on is certain employees won’t be allowed to strike if it puts public health and safety at risk.

This includes more than a handful of social service workers who have high priority cases, among some other employees.

“Big crisis ones would be the children and adults who have needs that we get emergency reports on,” Drake said.

Drake says longer running investigations will be delayed and five of their buildings across the county could temporarily close except their sixth location in San Luis Obispo.

So what is the possible strike about anyway?

“We have basic requests following negotiations that transpired between December 2017 and April of 2018,” said Pat McNamara, SLOCEA General Manager.

The union is asking for the following:

  • a 3% pay increase instead of .05%
  • a minimum of 2 hours pay if they’re called back into work outside their normal hours instead of 30 minutes
  • an increase in medical contribution for all employees, not just some

“This is kind of a dispute that has been building up for many years,” McNamara said.

24 county departments and work sites could be affected.

The union says it’s dependent on the county meeting their demands.

“I understand that the Central Coast is an expensive place to live and that’s one of the reasons we’ve given a 12.5% increase over the last year since 2014,” explained San Luis Obispo County CAO, Wade Horton. “However, with the fiscal climate this year, it just wouldn’t be fiscally prudent to provide an increase above the half percent that we end up imposing.”

The strike could begin December 11 and last for a maximum of four days.

More than 1,700 county employees are represented by SLOCEA including public works and the planning department.