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Strikers wash cars Saturday

Event was to raise awareness and funds
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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More than 50 cars were washed during Saturday’s Rally in the Alley, an event that raised $2,114 for Lincoln’s 33 striking public services employees. The employees, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 members, have been picketing since Sept. 14 because City Council voted to implement a Last, Best and Final Offer on Sept 13. The Last, Best and Final Offer part that strikers don’t agree with is having to pay 10 percent of their health-care premium and 100 percent of any increases to their health-care premium, according to previous News Messenger reports. Employees and their families washed cars and served barbecue food from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the alley behind Ace Towing on G Street. Dudley and the Do Rights, a local band fronted by striking parks employee Phil Dudley, also performed. City Manager Jim Estep said a water employee and two airport employees have crossed the picket line since the strike began, bringing the number of strikers down to 33 from 36. Attempts by The News Messenger to reach the two workers were not successful. “The union has not asked to meet at all and we have sent two letters where we asked to meet,” Estep said. The News Messenger asked Local 39 Director of Public Employees Joan Bryant what it would take for the strike to be over. “It’s going to take them (City Council) to ratify the tentative agreement that was reached and ratified by our members (Sept. 19),” Bryant said. “I have met with then and negotiated in good faith, and reached a tentative agreement. Now the ball is in the city’s court to act on that agreement.” Funds raised from Saturday’s benefit car will be split between the workers, according to Local 39 business representative James Britton. “We are having our car wash to raise awareness and to help the striking employees,” Britton said. “Everyone has been very supportive.” Brian Button, a wastewater technician and group steward for the negotiations, described being on strike as “tough” financially. “My wife has had to pick up extra shifts at work,” Button said. Robert Pyfield, a transit employee, said he has lost “between $4,000 and $5,000” since the strike began. “We all want to go back to work and are ready,” Pyfield said. “I hope we get some resolution.” As cars were washed, their owners walked around the rally, perusing raffle prizes, listening to music and eating food donated by striking employees and their families. Linda Bush, a Lincoln resident, said she and her husband worked for Santa Clara County and “understands” what the strikers “are going through.” “I know that these are difficult economic times and I just believe that the workers just want a fair contract,” Bush said. “They are not being greedy. They just want something fair.” John Michelti, also a Lincoln resident, listed two benefits of the car wash. “I think it helps build morale and helps them financially,” Michelti said. Michelti said City Council should “lead by example” by also paying a portion of their health care. Resident Stephanie Barrie donated a 75- to 100-year-old antique table that had been in her family for generations to be raffled off. “We don’t have any money to give them but we wanted to help,” Barrie said. “It might pay someone’s PG&E or mortgage payment.”