Local 21 Wins Major Museum Contracting Out Case

In a major victory against contracting out, an Arbitrator ruled that the City of Oakland violated the City Charter, our contract, and State law when it terminated City workers at the Oakland Museum and contracted out their work.

For many years, operation of the Museum was split between City and Oakland Museum Foundation (OMF) employees. In 2010, the City notified the Union that it was transferring museum operations entirely to OMF. This meant laying off all of the museum’s City employees, who would have the “opportunity” to reapply for their jobs at OMF, but with less pay and significantly inferior benefits. To make matters worse, unless those employees retired within 120 days of separating from City employment, they would permanently lose their retiree medical coverage.

While the Union maintained that the City was contracting out jobs, the City insisted it was “going out of the museum business” and not contracting out work, despite records of a proposal to provide OMF with $5 million/year to continue operations. 

Over the next several months, the City met with the Union, but refused to provide copies of agreements between the City and OMF. It was clear the City considered this a done deal and was refusing to bargain.

Local 21 filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge and grievance, and the arbitration occurred at the end of October 2012. A few weeks ago, we received a decision from the Arbitrator that sided with Local 21 on all counts, rejecting the City’s transparent argument that it was “going out of business!” The Arbitrator found that the City violated the Oakland Charter and illegally contracted out bargaining unit work to OMF, violated it’s duty to bargain with Local 21, and engaged in superficial bargaining by refusing to provide critical information and rejecting the union’s offers to resolve the issues.

This is an important win for Local 21! Congratulations to Staff Reprepsentative Subha Varadarajan who worked tirelessly on this case for more than two years.