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New group of city employees unionizes

File Photo of Dee Contreras.

A group of 103 city employees including workers’ compensation claims representatives and administrative analysts will likely be represented by a new union, according to city spokeswoman Amy Williams and labor organizer Dee Contreras.

A majority of the group of workers, who had not previously been represented by a union, recently signed cards in favor of joining a new union, the Sacramento City Exempt Employees Association, Williams said last week.

The signed cards were verified by California’s Mediation and Conciliation Service, according to Williams.

By unionizing, the analysts and other workers in the group will be able to negotiate with management on policies that affect them, according to Contreras, who is organizing city employees in the new union. She is the former labor relations director for the city.

“The reality is, those people want to help the city,” Contreras said. “The goal is to do as much as they can to help the city, but to get recognition and to participate in that decision-making process.”

Williams said the city plans to formally recognize the new union next month.

“By law, we support our employees’ right to organize for the purposes of collective bargaining,” Williams said. “A majority of a group of employees has authorized a union to represent them. The city will grant that right at the end of the 30-day notice period, which ends on June 20.”

During the 30-day period after the cards were verified, a competing union can apply to represent the group of city employees, Williams said. But according to Contreras, no other union has said it wants to represent the group of 103 employees.

Contreras formally told the city manager’s office about her plans to organize three groups totaling 677 employees, including the group of 103 staffers, in February. 

She said she is currently negotiating with the city’s human resources and labor relations officials and the city attorney’s office over plans to unionize the other two groups of employees. One of the groups includes managers and the other group includes staff assistants. 

If Contreras eventually organizes all three groups, the total will likely be less than 677 people. That’s because city officials and Contreras have been discussing whether some of the employees in those groups should not be part of the union, according to Contreras.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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