The Silicon Valley Voice

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Santa Clara Union Votes to Strike

After months of unfruitful negotiations with the City, Santa Clara Unit 6 — Field Operations and Maintenance Staff — has voted 93-6 to strike. No date is set for the labor action, however, the union and the City are still talking, said Unit 6 president Gary Ferraris.

“City Manager Rajeev Batra has reached out to us to try to get this to a place where we can avoid a strike,” Ferraris said. “We still have an opportunity to prevent this.”

In February, Unit 6 reached an impasse in negotiations with the City’s negotiating team, led by dismissed City Manager Deanna Santana, over the City’s “steadfast refusal” to grant Unit 6 salary increases, said Ferraris. Unit 6 was the only employee group that was asked to accept another year of zero increases — Unit 9, Miscellaneous Management, received a 4.5% increase.* 


The acrimony reached its peak in Unit 6’s no-confidence vote against Santana in March. At a City Council meeting, Ferraris told the Council that Santana’s ”hand-picked executive leadership team has played a primary role in systematically quashing our morale.” Ferraris was referring to the group of former Santana colleagues that she brought to Santa Clara City Hall in 2018 and 2019, who replaced most of Santa Clara’s top management, including that of Human Resources. 

The union has a second grievance. In the negotiations, Ferraris said, the City wanted Unit 6 to agree to relinquish members’ legal right to refuse to cross a picket line.

“We see it as a union-busting move,” said Ferraris.

Although Ferraris didn’t mention other issues.

“It’s the people in Unit 6 mowing the lawns at City Hall, keeping our parks clean and safe, keeping the water running to your house and the sewage running out, keeping the storm drains working so the streets don’t flood,” said Ferraris. “Public facilities like the libraries, the Community Recreation Center, the International Swim Center, the cemetery — they are all maintained by Unit 6.”  

“We are going to the Council on Tuesday to see what can and cannot be done and how we can avoid strike,” said City Manager Rajeev Batra. “We are working with the Council and with Unit 6. These are important people who provide important services to our residents.”

Santana’s 2017 departure from previous jobs has also been under labor disputes and threatened strikes. 

*Santana, both the City’s negotiator and a member of Unit 9, received a $20,000 raise in 2021. 


  1. CSC 2 years ago

    Sunnyvale maintenance workers earn an average $75k base annual salary, top third make $80k-$90k. Similar vocations in Campbell are paid $78.5k, top half $80k-$82k, and Santa Clara maintenance workers are compensated an average of $100.6k annually, top third $101k-$116k.
    And let’s not forget, the higher the salary the higher the pension liability that residents must shoulder. Santa Clara workers have CalPERS pension meaning that they can retire at age 50 (minimum 5 years employment) or 52 if hired after 2013, will a lifetime pension income and health benefits.
    “Field Operations and Maintenance voted 93-6 to strike. No date is set for the labor action…” There doesn’t appear to be a need for City of Santa Clara negotiators to give in to demands and there doesn’t seem to be a reason for maintenance employees to complain.

    • Jose 2 years ago

      All lies buddy. Get the right information. Stop spreading misinformation.

  2. The Dude 2 years ago

    CSC- More bad information on your part. A quick search shows that Unit 6 has a 2.0% at 62 retirement through CalPers. Classic employees have a 2.7% at 55 retirement plan.

  3. CSC 2 years ago

    Classic “quick, look the other way” tactic by Jose and The Dude. They proclaim everyone else wrong but won’t substantiate their claim (Jose) or deflect the conversation in a different direction (the Dude).
    “Quick search” The Dude refers to is the Memorandum of Understanding which generalizes service credit (page 4) and defers to CalPERS for definition of the retirement plan. CalPERS clearly defines various retirement types, which can be reviewed here As CalPERS states, “This means that your benefit amount is determined by a formula…Once you’re eligible and you retire, you[r] benefit is payable for life” which substantiates my initial comment above.
    Getting back on topic of this Zero Increase (pay) article and my comment: City of Santa Clara employees represented by ‘Unit 6’ are provided an annual compensation significantly higher than their peers in neighboring Campbell and Sunnyvale. There is no reason for this, in the interest of Santa Clarans and the City’s budget deficit, the City Council should refrain from tying future taxpayer monies to overly generous salaries and pension liabilities. Jose, The Dude, and anyone else interested in a meaningful conversation about the salary increase topic can conduct research on Transparent California before coming back here.

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