Courthouse workers walked an informational picket line this Monday, expressing anger and concern that they haven’t had a pay increase in six years. A similar action was held Friday in Santa Maria. According to union organizer Mike Woods of Service Employees International Local 620, Santa Barbara County’s 145 courthouse workers — clerks, reporters, collection agents, legal processors, and information technicians — are paid on average 5 percent less than their counterparts from five counties with comparable populations and caseload volumes. “The work we do is judicial, and it is important,” said clerk Debbie Graydon. “I’ve been here 32 years and make $23.13. In other court rooms, they are making $28-$31 an hour.”
The union is demanding a 7 percent pay increase to be spread over an indeterminate number of years. The last contract between the Superior Court and its workers expired October 31, and five negotiation sessions have taken place since August. Court executive administrator Darrel Parker said he could not comment on the specifics of contract negotiations, but he did acknowledge courthouse workers have been asked to do much more in recent years with fewer people. In the past two years, 47 courthouse employees have left under intense budgetary constraints.