HAYWARD -- Striking municipal workers called on the mayor and City Council to talk with them face-to-face, but no elected officials showed up at a noontime rally Wednesday, the second day of the employees' walkout.
Members of SEIU Local 2021 went on strike Tuesday in an effort to get the city to resume negotiations after declaring an impasse last month.
Union members wore purple shirts, blew on noisemakers, chanted and carried picket signs Wednesday as they marched from City Hall to the Main Library. They were joined by members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, who will be negotiating a contract with the city this fall.
At a short rally at the library, Linda Reid, the union's Hayward chapter president, spoke.
"We offered for the city officials to come down here and talk to us. Do you see them here? No," she said.
The union was told that the elected officials did not feel it was appropriate to interfere with negotiations, Local 2021 spokeswoman Anna Bakalis said.
Councilman Greg Jones said it is the city manager's responsibility to negotiate with bargaining groups. "They've entered into a process the parties agreed to before negotiations began, and as a city councilman, I'm respectful of that process," he said.
Seeking a new contract are the city's library assistants, water treatment workers, animal control officers, street maintenance crews, dispatchers, administrative staff members and others. Their contract expired in April, and union members authorized a strike in June.
The city wants the Service Employees International Union-represented workers to forgo raises until 2015 and contribute 17 percent of their yearly salaries toward the cost of health and pension benefits to help close a $2.6 million budget gap. The city is making the same demand of all of its bargaining units.
Workers gave up pay and took unpaid furloughs during the economic downturn, but the city is doing better, said Elden Walker, a utilities maintenance worker, at the noontime rally. "We've contributed so much to the city over the years. We struggled through the years when the city struggled. It's unreasonable to get to this point," he said.
Everyone in the city, including the mayor and council, have been asked to make the same 17 percent in concessions, which are needed for the city to remain viable, Halliday said.
"I fully understand how hard this is. We're not asking them to not do anything we haven't done," she said. It's very important for all of us; we need to get this budget on track."
The council is not who workers need to meet with, Councilwoman Barbara Halliday said.
"They need to go back to the negotiating table, and I would hope they do that," she said.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473, or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.