Several hundred city workers converged on the steps of the city administration building Wednes-day. Some brought the tools of their trade: garbage trucks, pick-ups and code enforcement vehicles, the latter of which came in handy for blocking off the street for the noontime party.
Many picked up purple shirts and hats and sat in the noonday sun, heads moving with the music coming from an improvised stage on a flat-bed truck.
It was a party with a point: the largest city workers’ union, Service Employees International Union 1021, with around 1,000 members, was about to go into bargaining for a new contract. Negotiations would begin as soon as the rally ended at 12:30 p.m.
“I’ve heard the city is one of the top 10 cities with a very large reserve,” SEIU 1021 Treasurer Sandra Lewis told the Planet before climbing up to the speaker’s platform for the rally.
On stage, Lewis called for smooth bargaining with city negotiators and introduced City Manager Phil Kamlarz and Human Resources Director David Hodgkins, both of whom they would be facing at the negotiating table. “We’ll work our differences out at the table. We’ll work as a team,” Lewis said to the cheering crowd.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington also spoke, calling for pay and benefit equity and noting that “police and fire get more benefits than all the other employees.”
The undercurrent, however, was the near-bankruptcy of Vallejo and the downturn in the economy. SEIU 1021 contracts—for clericals, maintenance workers, non-sworn police and more—expire in June.