Los Angeles city workers hit the picket lines for a one-day walkout on Tuesday in protest over contract negotiations. More than 11,000 members of Service Employees International Union Local 721 were said to have participated in the walkouts and on picket lines, which began at around 4 a.m.
Sanitation workers, heavy duty mechanics, traffic officers, engineers and many more city workers, who are represented by SEIU 721, walked off the job to protest city management and other "unfair labor practices restricting employee and union rights," according to a statement from the union on Friday.
City residents face disruptions to services including trash pickups and traffic operations, parking enforcement, municipal pools and animal shelters. City-operated preschools and daycare centers will be open as normal on Tuesday.
City services expected to be impacted include:
HOMELESS AND HOUSING SERVICES: Daily city-run homeless and housing services will not be impacted. The Los Angeles Department of Housing hotline will be operational.
TRASH PICK UP AND OTHER DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION SERVICES: Customers can anticipate a one day delay in collection services. Tuesday collections will be collected on Wednesday, Wednesday collections will be on Thursday, Thursday collections will be on Friday, and Friday collections will be on Saturday. Normal collection services are anticipated to resume by Monday, August 14, 2023.
CARE and CARE+ operations originally scheduled for Tuesday, August 8, 2023 will now be deferred to Saturday, August 12, 2023. All wastewater and conveyance operations are expected to proceed as normal.
For any unanticipated sewer related emergencies, LASAN may utilize on-call contractors to provide repairs or maintenance as needed. For more information, call our 24/7 Customer Care Center at 1-800-773-2489 or visit lacitysan.org
TRAFFIC SERVICES: Service impacts may include parking enforcement, traffic operations and control for permitted special events, and constituent calls for service to signals and sign repair. Residents may experience traffic delays at major events held within the City of Los Angeles.
POOLS AND PARKS: The Department of Recreation and Parks anticipates possible aquatics program cancellations and potential pool closures. The public is encouraged to visit the Department of Recreation and Parks website for real-time updates and click on the "current pool status" link for real-time information on facility closures. Park maintenance may also be impacted.
CITY-OPERATED SUMMER CAMPS & DAY CARE: Summer camps will continue to operate at recreational facilities and any changes will be communicated immediately to parents. City-operated preschools and daycare centers will open as usual.
SERVICES AT LAX: Passengers are encouraged to allow for extra time to travel to and from Los Angeles International Airport. LAX staff are working with airport partners to mitigate impacts on guests.
ANIMAL SERVICES: Animal shelters will be closed to the public. Shelters will be open for emergency services including sick and injured animals as well as animals that may pose public safety risks.
LOS ANGELES CITY ZOO SERVICES: Possible impacts will be provided at lazoo.org, though it was noted that park hours were not expected to change.
LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY: Library services will not be impacted.
311 CALL CENTER:The 311 Call Center will be open and operational. Wait times may be longer than average.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Emergency LAPD and LAFD services will not be impacted.
The workers picketed at various locations, including City Hall and Los Angeles International Airport, clogging the entrances to several terminals and the always-crowded traffic horseshoe.
"We are here. You hear us outside. We're tired of the disrespect when it comes to bargaining,'' said Simboa Wright, vice president of the union and a wastewater collection worker with more than 20 years of city service while rallying outside of City Hall. "We're asking every last one of you as City Council members to assist and give the CAO (city administrative officer) authority to bargain."
L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian recommended airline passengers departing from Los Angeles International Airport plan to arrive an hour earlier than normal due to possible picketing at the airport.
The planned labor action comes amidas well as thousands of cooks, maids, dishwashers, servers, bellmen and front-desk agents at 46 Los Angeles area hotels represented by Unite HERE Local 11.
The union says the city is refusing "to bargain in good faith."
Monday, Paul Krekorian issued a statement saying, "We regret this inconvenience, but we can assure you that the city is continuing to negotiate with its unions."
Mayor Karen Bass also issued a statement regarding the strike, which said:
"As Mayor, my job is to ensure the people of Los Angeles are served and safe, that the city finances are protected and that city workers — the backbone of our economy — are respected and treated fairly.
City services were impacted but continued today. Public safety and homeless housing emergency services continue. City-operated summer camps and daycares are open. Services at LAX continue with limited impact to travelers. A number of public pools are open throughout the city. The Los Angeles City Zoo is open and so are our libraries. All of our animal shelters are open to the public and our 311 Call Center is taking calls. Trash pick up will resume tomorrow. Our Department of Transportation is executing contingency plans for shows tonight at the Greek Theater and the Hollywood Bowl, as well as for the match at BMO Stadium. Attendees may be impacted by traffic, so Angelenos should allow extra time heading to these events.
The City will always be available to make progress with SEIU 721 and we will continue bargaining in good faith."
The employees, including sanitation workers, heavy duty mechanics, traffic officers and engineers represented by SEIU Local 721, voted overwhelmingly in May, with 98-percent approval, to authorize an unfair labor practice strike if negotiations stalled.
According to the union, the city of Los Angeles strike "comes at a watershed moment for the city, with officials preparing for the World Cup and Olympic Games in the coming years. Both events promise to have long-lasting impacts on the entire Southern California region, with a massive influx of tourists and athletes putting an enormous strain on the city's frontline services, all on the world stage."
It also comes at a time when the city is experiencing a more than 20% job vacancy rate across departments.
Timothy O'Reilly, chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, criticized the union's planned actions, saying Monday that by "holding up essential services as families start school and our city reaches maximum capacity threatens not only lives but our city's rapidly declining reputation."
"If we can't keep basic services afloat, it's no wonder Los Angeles' population is projected to decline by 1.5 million by 2060," O'Reilly said in a statement.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the association understands that "union leaders want to do the best they can for their members."
But, he said, it was important to remember that the "money to pay public employees comes from taxpayers, including union themselves, and forcing taxpayers to pay more can result in cuts to essential services or higher taxes."
The walkout is the first such strike action in more than 40 years.
SEIU Local 721 representatives said that they will return to the bargaining table with city officials next Monday.
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