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After four months of negotiations for a new contract with the
City of Hollister, frustration frowned the faces of about 50
unionized workers who showed up to picket outside City Hall and
speak during this week’s City Council meeting.
It was the second assemblage of Service Employees International
Union 817 members to voice their opinions about the ongoing
negotiations. The group
– made up of 72 city workers – last visited a Council meeting in
early August. Their previous three-year contract expired June
30.
After four months of negotiations for a new contract with the City of Hollister, frustration frowned the faces of about 50 unionized workers who showed up to picket outside City Hall and speak during this week’s City Council meeting.

It was the second assemblage of Service Employees International Union 817 members to voice their opinions about the ongoing negotiations. The group – made up of 72 city workers – last visited a Council meeting in early August. Their previous three-year contract expired June 30.

The workers’ presence was sparked after 90 percent of the union members rejected the city’s “best and final offer” last week. The Local 817 members include occupations such as city engineers, maintenance workers and administrative assistants. The Police and Fire departments, along with mid-management and department head positions, are not included in the union.

Danny Hillstock, a Hollister engineer and president of the union, said the employees are seeking “equitable cost of living adjustments” and suitable health care packages.

“The services we provide to the city are the essential day-to-day services that keep the city moving,” Hillstock said. “We’re requesting the Council be considerate in making a decision that definitely affects our lives.”

The SEIU 817 members make up about 44 percent of the city’s employee base. Their salaries, not including benefits, cost the city $3.8 million during the past fiscal year.

Before the 7 p.m. meeting, the workers also picketed outside City Hall’s front door for about an hour. During the public comment period of the meeting, Council members, who have been instructed to refrain from publicly discussing details of the closed-door negotiations, sat and watched as several workers took turns at the podium.

City Manager Dale Shaddox, who heads up a negotiating team for the city, could not be reached Tuesday. After the August Council meeting that SEIU 817 members attended, Shaddox declined comment on specifics of negotiations and expressed disappointment in the union’s vocal presence at a Council meeting.

Engineer Luis Aguilar mentioned the most recent contracts signed by the Police and Fire departments and requested the city consider SEIU 817 “equally and the same.”

A union representative, Stacey Soldon, also spoke and expressed disappointment over progress during the past three months.

She said the proposals from the union are considerate of the city’s economic situation.

“The (best and final) offer fundamentally failed to address all of our members’ needs,” Soldon said.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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