Fresno County court staff agree to tentative contract, end strike

The court reporters and other support staff at the Fresno County Superior Court have agreed to a labor contract with the court, ending a strike that began last week.

The Service Employees International Union Local 521, which represents about 275 court employees, announced the resolution Tuesday afternoon.

SEIU spokeswoman Elsa Mejia said the new contract will restore a 40-hour work week for court reporters and protect staff from “unjust” cost increases to their health care benefits. Court reporters had previously worked 35-hour weeks, and the union had rejected the court’s offer of 37.5 hours prior to striking.

Denise Dedmon, a court reporter and chapter president for Local 521, said the agreement “allows us to resume the jobs that we love and move forward with the court on our shared commitment to serving the residents of Fresno County.”

The contract is tentative until union members vote to approve it.

Dozens of union members could be seen holding signs and chanting outside the courthouse in the days since the strike began on Jan. 15. The two sides had previously reached a tentative agreement, but the union’s members voted against it. The court was notified of the employee’s intent to strike on Jan. 13.

The union represents court reporters, judicial assistants, court office assistants, account clerks and child custody recommending counselors.

On Thursday, the court sued the SEIU, claiming it had violated an agreement to provide eight employees during any work stoppage. A judge issued a court order requiring the SEIU to provide these workers.

The lawsuit indicated the court was struggling to perform its essential duties without its court reporting roster.

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