An open letter to striking Oakland City Workers

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Oakland city workers began a strike on Tuesday, December 5th over adequate pay and staffing levels. As of Sunday evening, December 10, IFPTE21 and SEIU are planning to continue the strike into a second workweek.

Dear strikers from SEIU 1021 and IFPTE Local 21, and IBEW 1245 members honoring the picket lines,

Thank you for standing up for city services and dignity on the job. As public employees, what you do daily makes a difference for thousands of people. As striking public employees, you are showing us the power of solidarity, how unions stick together, and most importantly that going on strike is the only way we can win what we deserve. Quality public services cannot happen if offices are understaffed, or if there is high turnover, or if workers can’t keep up with the Bay Area’s accelerating living costs.

Know that your courage and sacrifices are appreciated by many. There are other Bay Area labor unions who are in contract negotiations. They face the same recalcitrant public employers who say there is no money for wage increases, yet are quick to hand out tax breaks and special favors to their corporate friends. Your tenacity sends a message to all bosses that working people will rise up to get what they deserve and shut it down if necessary. You are emboldening other unionists to also stand up and fight back. The residents who rely on city services know that they will get better service if you have better working conditions.

Your fight is needed. A strike could have been averted if the City kept its promise to give back when the economy got better. The issue of filling career positions with part-time temporary employees would be a non-issue because they could fill full time career positions with full time permanent workers who have benefits and job security. Large building projects and the passage of the $650 million bond measure for public infrastructure and homelessness are evidence of available funding.

You’ve made an investment in the future of our city by going on strike. This is why we have been on the picket line with you every day of the strike. This is why we advocate for the Alameda County Central Labor Council to organize a massive community rally that takes place after work so that we can give the public an opportunity to show our support to you.

We are also encouraging labor unions to give significant donations to the SEIU 1021 and IFPTE 21 hardship funds. We call on the city to let city workers scour the budget and show how to save money and fund public services. We’re organizing our co-workers, friends, family and co-unionists to walk the picket line with you. We are urging all the unions to continue to stand strong and not return to work until they can all go back together.

In solidarity,

Your Freedom Socialist Party sisters and brothers

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