California county hospital staff get 13% raise in tentative labor deal

Service Employees International Union Local 521 has reached a tentative agreement on a successor contract with Santa Clara County in California.

The deal covers more than 12,000 workers across the county, according to a July 28 news release shared with Becker's. Workers include 911 dispatchers, social workers, county hospital staff, and parks and roads, among others.

The tentative agreement includes the largest wage increase in more than two decades — 13 percent over three years — a one-time lump sum payment, as well as equity and realignment payments, the union said.

SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer Riko Mendez praised the deal in the union release, saying that it will "begin to overcome staffing shortages, increase educational resources and [expand] equity for lower-wage earners who are made up of [mostly] women of color."

He added that "we still have work to do to grow our way out of the short staffing and turnover exacerbated by the pandemic, but because of the resiliency and commitment of front-line county workers, we secured one of the best deals in the history of Santa Clara County."

County Executive James Williams shared the following statement with Becker's: "We are very pleased that the County and SEIU have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. SEIU represents more than half the County workforce — public servants who show their commitment every day to serving and caring for our diverse community. This tentative agreement takes care of our dedicated staff and ensures that the county will be able to continue offering critical public services. It is a win-win for our employees and for the community that relies on the high-quality care and excellent services we offer to Santa Clara County residents."

The tentative agreement averts a strike, which union members authorized in June. The union said its members will hold a contract ratification vote in the next two weeks, followed by a formal ratification vote by the county board of supervisors.  

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