Ventura County government workers have voted to strike as early as Sept. 10 if an agreement on salary increases is not reached with county officials, employee union officials said Wednesday.
More than 80% of the workers who cast ballots favored a strike, which would be the first by Ventura County employees, said Julie Finkelstein, spokeswoman of the Public Employees Assn. of Ventura County. The association represents about 4,000 of the county's 5,500 workers.
The county workers, ranging from health care and social service employees to animal control officers and agriculture inspectors, are seeking pay increases of 9.5% over two years, Finkelstein said.
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that its final offer is a pay increase of 4.25% over two years. The county cannot afford to raise workers' salaries more than that, board Chairwoman Maggie Erickson said.
A negotiating session between county and union representatives is scheduled Sept. 9, officials said. The employees association will meet afterward to decide whether to call for an immediate strike, Finkelstein said.
"This union has never gone out on strike, so before we walk we want to make sure it is what everybody wants," Finkelstein said.
Sept. 9 Deadline
The strike vote, which was tallied Tuesday after a 10-day balloting period, authorizes the employee negotiating team to declare a strike if an agreement is not reached Sept. 9, Finkelstein said. The strike could be called as early as Sept. 10, she said.
Last month, county workers staged a number of walkouts ranging in duration from one hour to four days.
A strike by Ventura County employees would be the first since the 1985 California Supreme Court decision guaranteed public employees that right, union officials said.
The previous employee contract expired on June 28.