Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown heads to court to stop state worker strike

The Brown administration will go to court on Friday to block an unprecedented and potentially disruptive one-day strike next week by California’s largest state employee union.

The California Department of Human Resources confirmed on Thursday that it had filed a request with the Sacramento Superior Court for an injunction against SEIU Local 1000 that would prohibit the union from carrying out the strike or, alternatively, prevent certain “essential employees” from participating in the planned work stoppage.

Local 1000, which represents about 95,000 workers in nine of the state’s 21 bargaining units, announced last week that it would strike on Dec. 5 amid ongoing contract negotiations over a multiyear raise, gender pay inequities and how much members will contribute to their health care plans.

State agencies have warned their employees that the action is illegal because of a no-strike clause in the union’s contract and that they could be subject to discipline if they walk out on Monday. But Local 1000 argues that its strike would be justified because the Brown administration has committed unfair labor practices during bargaining.

CalHR’s request built on a complaint filed earlier in the day by the Public Employment Relations Board regarding approximately 5,900 employees at state prisons, veterans homes, hospitals and centers for the developmentally disabled “whose absence from or refusal to work during the strike may pose an imminent and substantial threat to the health and safety of the public.”

The Brown administration originally sought to stop Local 1000’s strike through a “bad faith bargaining” grievance with PERB. But the employment relations board largely rejected its argument and is pursuing a temporary restraining order that would prevent the union from encouraging just a narrow band of essential employees, representing about 6 percent of its members, from taking part in the work stoppage.

The court is scheduled to take up all three of the requests on Friday afternoon.

The filings came a day after Local 1000 sent a cease-and-desist letter to CalHR complaining that managers have been holding “illegal captive audience meetings with Local 1000 represented members” where they are “harassing and intimidating members with inaccurate information about their right to strike, and are threatening discipline for participation.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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