Fresno County court workers threatening to strike if agreement on contract not met

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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Fresno County court workers threatening to strike if agreement on contract not met

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Close to 280 Fresno County court workers could walk off the job if an agreement isn't reached soon with court administrators.

Tuesday afternoon clerks, assistants, and court reporters rejected the latest offer.

This group of court employees has been working without a contract since September 30th. One main sticking point is money. The proposal just rejected offered court reporters no raise and also steep health care increases.

Court workers are bargaining for better pay and benefits.

"I feel like they are investing in technology and not people and services," said court reporter Natalie Kjar.

Kjar has worked in the Fresno County courthouse for more than 20 years.

Six years ago during the economic crisis, court reporters had their 40 hour week reduced to 35 hour week. The latest proposal would increase the work week to 37.5 hours but not offer any pay raise.

However, clerks and judicial and office assistants would get a 3% raise.

"With the increase in health benefits, some of our members would be going backward instead of forward. They'd still have to pay out of pocket and these are people who with families," said Kjar.

Next year, some employees will be experiencing a spike in health care costs that are eight to nine percent higher than their current fees.

Court employees aren't closing the door on a strike and plan to head back to the table in hopes negotiations won't come to that point.

"We would like to resolve this as soon as possible and as amicably as possible and all cooperate together so we can provide the services that we have in the past and do the jobs we love," said Kjar.

Late Tuesday, court administrators issued a statement saying, "We are very disappointed to hear rumors about the employees vote to not accept the Courts offer. The Court has no more money to offer."

Court employees are planning to meet again with administrators next week. They would like a 4% raise for all court workers and 40 hour work week for court reporters.