In a groundbreaking move, thousands of scientists working for the state of California initiated a three-day strike—marking the first walkout by a state civil service union. Members of the California Association of Professional Scientists took to the streets of Sacramento under overcast skies to voice their frustration over the lack of progress in contract negotiations. The strike is set to expand to Los Angeles, Oakland, and other cities on Thursday and Friday.
The union, which represents over 5,200 members across more than 50 state departments, handles a wide array of critical issues, including air pollution, toxic waste control, earthquake hazards, and agricultural pests, as noted on its website.
Despite ongoing bargaining and mediation, members have been without a contract since 2020, having rejected a tentative agreement earlier this year. A state mediation session is scheduled for Nov. 28.
This historic strike is the first of its kind since state workers gained collective bargaining rights in 1977, as reported by The Sacramento Bee. According to the union’s president, Jacqueline Tkac, the decision to strike was not taken lightly but is a testament to the passion and commitment of its members.
Recently, the California Department of Human Resources filed a complaint of unfair labor practices against the union in an effort to prevent the strike. Responding to the strike, the department expressed disappointment, emphasizing the state’s commitment to bargaining in good faith and working towards a fair agreement.
At the forefront of the union’s demands is the issue of higher wages. Members argue that state scientists are being paid 40% to 60% less than professionals in comparable positions with similar job responsibilities.