LA On Strike! But What Do the City Workers Want?

As the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles finds itself grappling with a citywide strike, the heart of the issue lies in the demand for fair labor practices and the urgency of addressing critical staffing shortages. City employees, represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721, have taken to the streets to protest what they perceive as unjust treatment by the city administration. The strike, organized by the union, has disrupted various city services, sparking conversations about the essential role these workers play in maintaining the city’s operations.

La Strike

The strike, which began on Tuesday, August 7, has impacted a range of city services. While certain services continue with limited disruption, including public safety, homeless housing emergency services, summer camps, daycare centers, and libraries, others have been affected. Notably, trash pickup services will experience a delay, and some pools, parks, and animal shelters have been temporarily closed to the public. Travelers using Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are advised to allocate extra time due to potential traffic delays. The strike’s ripple effect is felt throughout the city, highlighting the vital role that city workers play in the daily lives of Angelenos.

At the heart of the strike is the SEIU Local 721’s call for fair labor practices and immediate action to address staffing shortages. The union alleges that the city has failed to approach the staffing crisis with the necessary urgency, leaving many essential departments severely understaffed. In particular, the sanitation department alone has over 900 open positions, and other city departments also face numerous vacancies. Job application processing is hampered by understaffing, leading to delays of up to six months for applicants, who often seek alternative employment opportunities due to the prolonged waiting period. Union members emphasize that the urgency lies not just in filling positions, but in addressing the toll on workers who are subjected to mandatory overtime, preventing them from spending time with their families.

Negotiations between the city and the SEIU Local 721 have hit a roadblock, further fueling the strike. The union had ratified a one-year agreement with the city in November 2022, with the expectation that negotiations would continue in early 2023. However, the city allegedly reneged on this commitment, leading the union to file an unfair labor practice claim. The workers’ demands encompass improved wages, benefits, and a resolution to the staffing crisis that has strained various city departments.

It’s important to note that while city workers assert their rights and seek better working conditions, the city administration has a responsibility to balance these demands with the fiscal realities of taxpayers. Mayor [Mayor’s Name] has emphasized the importance of protecting city finances and ensuring essential services while treating city workers with respect and fairness.

As the strike continues to unfold, Los Angeles residents may experience disruptions to certain services, and it remains to be seen whether negotiations between the city and the SEIU Local 721 will lead to a resolution. The strike serves as a reminder of the critical role that city workers play in the functioning of a bustling urban center and the delicate balance between meeting their demands and maintaining the city’s overall stability.

Author: Jamie Herrera

Writer l Father of many | Master of none l