Court proceedings were thrown into disarray Monday when workers upset about pay cuts walked off the job in a one-day strike.
Only a handful of courtrooms were open to conduct criminal matters at the Hall of Justice as court clerks and other employees represented by Service Employees Union Local 1021 rallied outside. Strikes were also in effect at the civil and juvenile courthouses, totaling more than 200 workers.
Although a San Francisco Superior Court official said in a statement that all the court’s “essential functions” were proceeding, the normally bustling hallways at the Hall of Justice were largely empty.
A note posted on the door of the court clerk’s office on the first floor of the Hall of Justice, where members of the public and attorneys go for information and assistance, said the criminal court office, collections and civil assessment departments were closed “due to labor action.”
The court said it had shifted staff to critical areas to make sure that criminal matters, evictions, civil harassment and juvenile delinquency cases would proceed in a timely manner. It acknowledged that people taking the day off to handle matters such as traffic tickets and divorce proceedings would be delayed.
Civil, probate, family law and most criminal trials were postponed, according to the union.
Union members blamed the state Administrative Office of the Courts — which has imposed layoffs, and cuts to pay and services amid state budget cuts — for increasing San Francisco court employees’ workloads and slashing pay by 5 percent without any sunset date for the cuts. They said the agency has refused to negotiate a fair new contract to replace the one that expired in February, and has refused to release its financial records to prove the cuts are necessary.
The superior court statement said SEIU was the only one of four court unions to reject the 5 percent pay cut. It said the cuts were needed to prevent further layoffs.