Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

SEIU’s Semantics Game

Palo Alto city workers are taking a “self-imposed furlough day” on Thursday.  The city says that it’s just an insulting way of saying a strike. The Mercury News reports:

It may sound like a semantics game, but the difference illustrates how far apart from an agreement the city is with the Service Employees International Union Local 521, which announced Tuesday that its roughly 600 Palo Alto workers would take a “self-imposed furlough day” Thursday to save the city $281,000. The SEIU, which represents non-management workers at City Hall and in the utilities department, remains locked in negotiations with the city almost three months after its last contract expired. Union leaders are billing the “volunteer day” as an innovative way to help the city close its budget deficit while demonstrating their members’ dedication to the city.

City officials don’t see it that way. “SEIU employees cannot choose en masse to take an unauthorized day off from their work responsibilities,” City Manager James Keene said in a statement. “The city depends on its employees to show up to work and do their job every day. The safety, health and welfare of our residents depends on it.”

Call it what you will; union members won’t be at their jobs on Thursday, leaving non-union employees with twice the work.  Instead, say labor leaders, they will be volunteering around town, reading books to children in libraries, and cleaning up creeks.  Of the 617 workers the SEIU claims will be absent, here’s to hoping they will not all cram into the Palo Alto Downtown Library.

Three months have passed since the workers contracts expired and the SEIU Local 521 and the city could not be less in agreement over contracts if they tried.  Unless this is them trying. Read more from Palo Alto Online.

Image courtesy of Philo Norlund.

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