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Thousands of L.A. city workers poised to strike

Workers, managers and elected officials join forces in one of the biggest labor actions of a generation to hit Los Angeles city government: traffic police, gardeners, mechanics, janitor, lifeguards, engineers and many more. prepared for a one-day strike by trade unions representing workers in government work.

The Service Workers International Trade Union Local 721, representing more than 7,000 city employees, said Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday as union members protested unfair labor practices by city negotiators and management’s failure to participate in negotiations. announced that it would go on strike in the next minute. table.

The union’s president and secretary-general, David Green, said SEIU membership has been stretched to the limit with vacant posts plaguing city officials, forcing workers to work huge amounts of overtime. said. He said Tuesday’s strike would send a message that these workers deserve respect.

“People don’t understand the hard work they do. There are a lot of unsung heroes in this city,” Green said. “So I think it’s important for the city to be aware of that and let them know … we need to respect our work as city officials.”

The strike is expected to cause disruption to public services both large and small. The SEIU represents hundreds of lifeguards, so at least some public swimming pools are expected to be closed for the day. City curb bins will not be emptied, delaying garbage collection by a day for the rest of the week. Each animal shelter in the city will be closed. Also, there may be no traffic controllers for nighttime concerts. hollywood bowl and in the Greek theater sold out showsaid a city official.

Still, Mayor Karen Bass dismissed the notion that the city was reluctant to negotiate. In her statement, she said a range of services would continue, including emergency response by police, firefighters and paramedics. Summer camp at the recreation center. Kindergartens and nursery schools run by the city. and the facility that currently houses the city’s homeless population. Libraries will not be affected, she said.

“The City of Los Angeles is not going to shut down,” Bass said. “My office is implementing plans to ensure public safety, housing and homeless emergency operations are not impacted by this action. We are always prepared to do so, and we will continue negotiations in good faith.”

SEIU organizers will start the day with a 4 a.m. picket line at Los Angeles International Airport, where at least 1,000 union members are employed. The event will be followed by a series of demonstrations and activities throughout the day at airports, city halls and dozens of other locations.

Day Levine, deputy director of communications and marketing for Los Angeles World Airports, said the agency is working to keep Los Angeles Airport operations “as close to normal as possible.”

“During planned actions, we are asking passengers to allow sufficient time for travel to and from the airport,” she said.

SEIU President Greene said thousands more workers from the City of Los Angeles Federation of Workers’ Unions have decided not to cross the SEIU’s picket line, hoping the impact of the strike will spread. At the same time, he acknowledged that unions will issue “line passes” that give permission to cross the picket line to work, mainly when employees have public safety responsibilities.

LinePasses will be provided to approximately 200 Los Angeles Police Department detainees and hundreds of security guards at Los Angeles International Airport. The union will also allow city council members to attend regular meetings scheduled for 10am, accompanied by two aides.

City Council members are not affiliated with the SEIU Local 721 or city union. But given the longstanding support for organized workers, at least some would not have dabbled without the union’s blessing.

The SEIU strike is one of several labor actions disrupting workplaces across Southern California in recent months. Entertainment industry workers and executives are riveted by the first simultaneous strike of Hollywood writers and actors since 1960. The Screen Actors Guild resigned last month, and the writers’ strike is nearing its 100th day.

Unite Here Local 11, an organization representing hotel and restaurant employees, has been operating independently in Los Angeles and Orange County since June 30, when the contracts of more than 15,000 hospitality employees at nearly 60 properties expired. of frequent work stoppages.

Unlike hotel associations, SEIU Local 721 is not out of contract. The union operates based on the following policies. 1 year salary agreement The plan will end in December and will provide members with a 3% salary increase and a one-time bonus equal to 5% of the employee’s annual salary.

The 3% increase is considered “pension-equivalent” and means that the basis used to calculate workers’ pensions after retirement will be widened. The 5% bonus given to workers as a lump sum last month will not apply to future retirement payments.

When the deal was reached last year, the two agreed to work over the next few months on more than 400 additional proposals submitted by unions that were unresolved. For example, unions are negotiating on issues such as bilingual wages and the city’s “boot allowance” demands for sanitation workers, Green said.

After nearly four months of negotiations, city negotiators told the union that they plan to combine those negotiations with the union’s next contract negotiations, which will go into effect in January. SEIU Local 721 objects and lodges complaints alleging unfair labor practices with the City’s Employee Relations Commission, which reviews and adjudicates such allegations.

Mr Green said his union is unwilling to negotiate the next deal while sorting out more than 400 side proposals left over from the previous year.

“We wanted them separated. [City negotiators] They agreed, but then changed their minds. This is unacceptable for us,” he said.

In a separate unfair labor practices complaint, SEIU Local 721 alleged that trade union representatives were denied visits to Ministry of Transport work sites. In yet another case, the union said SEIU representatives were unfairly barred from visiting the Los Angeles Police Department estate depot to update union members on negotiations. “An administrator who was out of reach closed the door in front of us,” Green said.

City Councilman Tim McCosker, who chairs the city’s human resources committee, declined to say whether the SEIU’s complaint was meritorious, saying the employee relations committee would have to make its own assessment. McCosker, who ran for office last year as a strong ally of organized workers, said he didn’t want a one-day strike to stymie progress toward an agreement between the two sides.

“We have assurances from the city authorities that we have been at the negotiating table and have been honest and sincere in the negotiations,” he said. “But I will leave that decision to you.” [Employee Relations Board] I will not allow it to affect our ability to continue negotiations and reach a settlement on the contract. “

City administrator Matt Szabo, who serves as the city’s chief negotiator, disagreed with the union’s claims, saying his team “has negotiated in good faith and consistently.” The SEIU and city officials have already reached agreement on “dozens of proposals” since April, he said.

“We are at the table and will continue to work towards fair and sustainable contracts for city employees,” he said.

SEIU Today contract It also includes language banning strikes and “other concerted actions that result in the suspension of services.” However, according to the union, state labor laws allow the SEIU to go on strike to protest unfair labor practices.

Tuesday’s 24-hour strike is shaping up to be one of the city’s biggest labor actions in decades. In 1993, officials from the Ministry of Water and Electricity went on strike for nine days, forcing hundreds of regulators to step in to keep the lights and water running.

In 2006, members of the Society of Engineers and Architects also staged a series of strikes, but on a much smaller scale than those at the DWP.

SEIU has yet to submit a salary proposal for its next contract. The city’s Executive Staff Relations Committee, which gives negotiating direction to city negotiators, is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss status negotiations with the SEIU and other civil service unions.

The committee is made up of four trustees, including Bass and McOscar.

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