An update on the San Jose city workers’ strike

Here’s a brief explanation behind why San Jose city workers are planning to go on one of the biggest strikes in decades.

San Jose city hall with a graphic of hands holding signs.

Learn why San Jose city workers are going on strike.

Photo + graphic by SJtoday staff

Table of Contents

After months of back-and-forth pay negotiations, San Jose city employees voted to go on a three-day strike (with 96%-99% approval) — which was set to start Tuesday, Aug. 15 and run through Thursday, Aug. 17.

Now, on the day of the planned strike, the local labor unions heading it have reached an agreement with city officials.

What led to this?

In early June, 4,000+ city workers demanded a raise to compensate for the added workload as their departments face approx. 900 vacant positions.

City officials have pushed back on these requests, warning of a budget shortfall in the next fiscal year — which, according to Mayor Matt Mahan, would mean potentially firing police officers or closing community centers + the Animal Care and Services Center.

Local union chapters IFPTE Local 21 + MEF-AFSCME Local 101 asked for employees to receive an 18% wage increase over three years, but the city is saying that anything over the proposed 12.5% would mean cutting more services.

Has this happened before?

Yes, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a planned city strike quite this large. In 1981, ~1,500 city workers went on strike for equal pay for comparable work. It lasted 10 days before the city ended in a settlement promising equity adjustments for female-dominated jobs.

An agreement

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, San Jose’s local union chapters representing 4,000+ city workers called off the strike after coming to an agreement with city officials regarding salary negotiations.

The deal outlines a 14.5% raise over the next three years for city workers, as well as increased paid family leave from one week to eight weeks.

Union workers will see a 6% increase this year, a 5% increase next year, and a 3.5% increase in 2024-2025 — with the potential for 4%, if the city has the funds.

Since this new contract deals with this year’s budget, the city will have to readjust its original plans and find the money to make up for the new wage deal. Details about budget cuts were not immediately made public, but we’ll continue to update this story as more is announced.