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LA County Janitors, Nurses, Librarians And Other Workers To Vote On Strike Authorization

A group of people wearing purple masks and raise their fists in the air. There are hundreds of people around them with protests signs saying,"Residents united" and  "Care for us so we can care for you."
Healthcare and social services workers from SEIU 721 march in downtown Los Angeles to raise awareness of their expiring contract on March 31, 2022.
(Courtesy of SEIU 721)
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Thousands of Los Angeles County workers will vote Wednesday on whether to authorize their union to call for a strike if a deal isn't reached on a new labor contract.

The workers belong to Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents roughly 55,000 county employees. They work in multiple sectors, including custodial services and public safety. If members vote to authorize, then workers may walk off the job to join picket lines if a strike is called.

David Green, president of Local 721, said negotiations continue but there hasn't been enough progress.

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“This contract needs to be settled, and [the county needs] to come back to the table and give us an offer that's fair and equitable, and really shows that we spent two years plus on the frontlines in this pandemic,” Green said.

He’s calling on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and county CEO to respond fairly. The workers are asking for better wages to reflect the rising cost of living, and they also want protections against the outsourcing of county jobs.

“We're not watching this pandemic from the couch,” Green added. “We've been on the front line and we deserve to be protected and respected as frontline workers.”

The vote comes only a month after Supervisor Janice Hahn honored a private sector employee who was on strike for nearly four months at Jon Donaire Desserts, a business in Santa Fe Springs. During the strike, Hahn and Supervisor Hilda Solis were vocal critics of the company, which drew attention to the county’s own labor challenges.

“We have a difficult time dealing with our own unions. And yet we’re going to go outside … to try to influence something else,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger told the board in December. “This is a slippery slope that we are going down.”

To avoid their own strike, county officials said in a statement they hope to soon work out a deal “on a fair contract that is fiscally responsible.”

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