Bay Briefs

Wednesday September 18, 2002

Judge orders striking  

Santa Cruz County employees  

back to work 

SANTA CRUZ — A strike by 2,000 Santa Cruz County workers continued for a second day Tuesday in a battle over pay and health care. 

On Monday, Santa Clara County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jack Komar ordered 195 county employees back to work, ruling their jobs were essential to health and safety. A hearing on that issue was to be held Friday. 

Also on Monday, the county and Local 415 of the Service Employees International Union agreed to get a state mediator involved in the dispute. 

The first-ever strike by workers in the county closed offices in Felton, Aptos and Watsonville, shuttered the Simpkins Family Swim Center in Live Oak and drastically reduced services in the offices that stayed open. 

Planning Director Alvin James predicted the strike was having its intended effect when asked how soon the strike would make county functions impossible. 

“[They already were] about a minute after the doors opened [Monday] morning,” James said. 

County workers voted to strike last week, complaining they were being paid an average of 7 percent less than workers doing the same jobs in neighboring counties. They also want improvements in health benefits. 

“We have been negotiating for 3 1/2 months, but we have basically been stonewalled on 95 percent of our proposals,” said Nancy Elliot, SEIU county chapter president. 


Mother, daughter die  

in Union City house fire 

UNION CITY – A two-alarm fire that raced through a mobile home late Monday night killing a mother and daughter while they slept, a Union City fire spokesman said. 

The cause has not yet been determined but foul play is not suspected. 

Neighbors in Central Park West, a long-established neighborhood near the Hayward-Union City line, reported seeing flames at the back of the family's mobile home at 2526 McArthur Ave. at 11:03 p.m. . 

Firefighters arrived at 11:10 p.m. to find the home engulfed in flames but knocked the blaze down within 15 minutes, firefighter spokesman Roberto Munoz said. 

Upon entering the home, firefighters found the body of a 10-year-old girl huddled under a window in the kitchen. Firefighters could not revive the girl, who had sustained both burn and smoke inhalation injuries, said Munoz. 

She was taken to St. Rose Hospital in Haywood where she was pronounced dead. 

Upon further inspection, firefighters later found the body of the girl's mother lying on the bedroom floor near a night table. Munoz said that neighbors said the woman was disabled with Multiple Sclerosis but moved around with the help of a walker and two different wheel chairs. 

She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The father, who was apparently working away from home during the fire, was called at work and has been meeting with a crisis counselor.