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Santa Clara court workers approved a new contract by a 2-1 vote Thursday night, ending a strike that began Nov. 18. The new two-year contract gives the 650 unionized employees raises of 1 percent to 7.4 percent this year, depending on job type and classification. All workers will get at least a 1 percent raise in the second year, and all will receive a $1,000 payment in December. With the lump-sum payment factored in, union officials say the average raise is 5.1 percent. “We really showed the courts, we surprised them,” said union negotiator Kristy Sermersheim. “They thought 100 people would walk out, but we had 600 people go out.” Sermersheim said the show of strength essentially doubled management’s offer. “In 23 months, we’ll be back at the bargaining table, and this court will treat us differently,” she added. Management’s earlier offer had been a 2.5 percent across-the-board increase this year, with no guarantees in the second and third years of a three-year contract. The approved deal means the largest group of employees — 266 courtroom clerks, reporters and research attorneys — will get 5 percent the first year. A group of 34 senior case-processing clerks will get 7.4 percent raises. A 2.5 percent raise goes to 212 mid-level case-processing clerks and administrative secretaries. Receiving a 1 percent raise are 102 low-level clerks and technology and finance workers. Some strikers were critical of the contract’s varied increases. “Management is trying to split us up and get everyone mad at each other, and it’s working,” said legal processing clerk Anthony Rodriguez, who voted to reject the contract. He’ll receive a 2.5 percent raise this year. “We’re not blaming the negotiating team,” he said. “They did the best they could. Management wouldn’t budge.” The union had workers return to their jobs Thursday in anticipation that the new pact would be approved. Courts were in session Friday and running, but court spokeswoman Debra Hodges said judges were juggling schedules to squeeze in matters that were continued due to the three-day strike. “There is a lot of backlog, and given that next week is a holiday week, a lot of people may have prescheduled vacation,” Hodges said. Workers had been without a contract since Oct. 28. Court management had said it couldn’t fund greater increases than the 2.5 percent hike budgeted by the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts. Union representatives had urged management to use a surplus accumulated by the court due to high job-vacancy rates. Hodges said the new contract provides an additional $2.4 million for raises and the one-time bonus, and $2 million in added benefit costs. In a statement Friday, Presiding Judge Richard Turrone welcomed the end of what he called a “family dispute.” He urged court personnel “to focus now on the future and not on the events of the past. We must all strive to work together to better serve the public.”

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