Oakland Bargaining Bulletin #6

Let’s Run Some Numbers

Following our member mobilization that brought 120 angry Local 21 and SEIU members together in the City Council Chambers to let the Council know that their proposal was unacceptable, we anticipated that the City representatives would have more authority at the table to negotiate a fair contract with our bargaining team. In fact, Council President Larry Reid approached Local 21 members following our demonstration to let our members know that the City had authorization but that likely it would not be enough to settle the contract. That “authority” at the bargaining table never materialized.

What our team heard time and time again from the City is that they owed us a response on our proposals. Yet of the remaining items on the table, the City owes our union a response on 76% of our proposals!

The City has provided costing information at the table, but that information could be described as misleading at best, dishonest at worst.  When we reviewed the calculations and did the math for ourselves, the City based their cost projections on 1050 represented workers of Local 21. Our actual number of represented workers in Oakland is around 890, a full 160 less than the City’s projections. This discrepancy dramatically inflates the “cost” of our proposals by at least 15%and robs money from our settlement that should legitimately be included!

The other curious costing measure that the City presented routinely in their reports to us was items that cost the same in year 1 of a potential contract as in year 2. This anomaly is owed to the fact that the City has offered us no increase in wages for year 1 or year 2 of the contract. However, in one of the costing reports offered by the City, there was an increase in year 2 and when we questioned the City, they admitted that they adjusted the number for an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). What inflationary number did they City state they expect to take effect next year in Oakland? 3.48%.

At the same time, the City is offering our members no wage increase, the City is planning for a 3.48% increase in the CPI, putting our members further behind than the roughly 10% we already are. Even after being questioned about their number in a second round of bargaining this week with Local 21 Researcher Ana Guzina on hand, the City has not moved from their position of zero COLA increases.