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Morning Brief: Strike At Cedars, Augmented Reality, And Josh Johnson

A person walks in a crosswalk in front of a large gray building displaying the words Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
A pedestrain crosses a street at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, 2012.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 10.

Throughout the first months of the pandemic, Americans nationwide participated in nightly drumming, yelling, whooping and noisemaking to thank our country’s healthcare workers, who risked their safety on the front lines of COVID-19.

Now, my colleague Phoenix Tso reports that some workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center say that when the rubber hits the road, they’re not able to make ends meet. Starting yesterday, members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West have gone on strike, citing "unfair labor practices, employee and patient safety concerns and low wages."

The union represents about 2,000 employees at the hospital, including certified nursing assistants, surgical technicians and transporters.

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Willie Gladney, an environmental services technician, said he knows of colleagues who’ve been employed by the world-renowned medical center for over 15 years, and make less than $20 an hour.

"One lady told me her son makes more than she does,” Gladney said. “He works at Target. He's 19 years old."

On Twitter, the union accused management at Cedars-Sinai management of not bargaining in good faith. “Healthcare workers are sick and tired of leading a stressed out life for an employer that doesn’t want to treat us right,” they wrote.

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In response to the union’s action, Cedars-Sinai CEO Thomas Priselac posted an online letter that read, in part: "The leadership of SEIU-UHW threatened to strike even before we sat down to exchange full proposals in early March … union leaders never intended to reach agreement with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center."

Doctors, nurses and researchers are not part of the union and we're told they will remain on the job. Workers plan to continue the strike throughout the week.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Crimes against people experiencing homelessness in L.A. increased during the first three months of this year.
  • L.A. City Council has ordered testing for toxic chemicals near a controversial Lincoln Heights development site after residents discovered that in the 1980s, more than 250 barrels of toxic waste were found buried around the property.
  • A public art installation in L.A. uses augmented reality to allow viewers to “witness” the eviction of 120,000 Japanese Americans and immigrants from their homes. 
  • Santa Monica is leading the charge in California water conservation. Since 2015, the city has invested more than $200 million in local water supply projects.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to reduce a $300 traffic ticket penalty by half, but some lawmakers want it gone.
  • A genetically modified mosquito could be the answer to the quick spread of Aedes aegypti. 
  • George Pérez, a famed comic book artist who was influential in shaping the Wonder Woman character people know today, died on Friday. He was 67.

Before You Go ... This Week's Event Pick: Josh Johnson At The Bourbon Room

Headshot of comic Josh Johnson in a grey hoodie sweatshirt.
Josh Johnson headlines two shows at the Bourbon Room.
(Courtesy of the artist)
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In response to popular demand, comedian Josh Johnson added a second show to his Hollywood performance at The Bourbon Room. In his new show, Johnson turns a therapy session into an hour of stand-up.

Or, you could: Celebrate Hacks’ new season by checking out Deborah Vance’s tour bus around L.A. Listen to the music of Gen X with Liz Phair. Watch Poetic Justice, 30 years after the L.A. uprising. Listen to John Waters discuss his new novel. And more.

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