Contract negotiations between Los Angeles County and its largest public employee union hit new lows, with the union declaring an impasse and county leaders preparing for a possible strike by social workers Thursday.
Hundreds of administrators in the county’s Department of Children and Family Services are preparing to fill in for social workers in the event that as many as 4,000 strike on Thursday, said county spokesman David Sommers. Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka also sent a memo to all department heads reminding them about pay and discipline policies for employee strikes or sick-outs.
“County management is aware of the potential for targeted, isolated work actions in response to these latest developments,” Sommers said. “Employees are legally entitled to engage in work actions, but they are not entitled to pay during their participation.”
Service Employees International Union, Local 721, which represents 55,000 county employees including the social workers, also declared an impasse in contract talks Tuesday night, an escalation of tensions. Union members have been working without a contract for more than two months, and members voted to authorize a possible strike last month.
Marathon negotiations have produced several agreements, including a 6% raise, increasing health premiums and a $500 bonus in 2014. But two main obstacles remain — the union’s desire to reduce social worker caseloads and the timing of the raise.
Labor leaders would like to see the same amount of money in raises as if they had settled before their contract expired Sept. 30. County officials say this would violate a long-held policy against retroactivity.
County officials are depriving union members “out of at least two months’ salary increase,” the union wrote to its members Tuesday night.
Social worker caseloads have been a long-standing controversy, and were the subject of a protest Tuesday afternoon outside the county Board of Supervisors’ weekly meeting.
“We’re asking the Board of Supervisors to do the right thing,” said union Regional Director Michael Green, standing in front of a pile of stuffed teddy bears and scores of social workers holding signs that read “Child Safety Now!”
“Their voices have been ignored,” Green said. “Now we’re at a tipping point.”
Negotiators were meeting feverishly Wednesday afternoon, with news about whether the strike would occur expected by this evening.
The Service Employees International Union, Local 102 became the second-largest county workers’ union Monday when it merged with the 748-member San Diego County Probation Officers Assn.
As a result of the merger, Local 102 represents more than 2,000 county employees, second only to the troubled County Employees Assn., which has about 6,500 members.
The merger is significant because it represents the second major county unit to merge with a bigger union in recent months, as county officials discuss proposed cutbacks for 1991 because of a budget crunch.
Last year, about 400 Superior Court employees merged with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 127.
“We’re tired of year after year going to the bargaining table, presenting reasonable arguments and winning nothing,” said Don Reeves, executive director of the Probation Officers Assn. “It’s been clear to us for some time that it’s been a futile endeavor. We voted overwhelmingly to go with Local 102 because it’s an aggressive and very professional union.”
The probation officers’ contract with the county expired in December, and both sides have been negotiating a contract since October. Salaries for probation officers range from $17,000 to $35,000 annually, Reeves said.
According to Reeves, wages and the length of a contract are the main stumbling blocks in the negotiations. The county has offered the group a 30-month contract, while the association seeks an 18-month pact.
Most county workers are represented by the County Employees Assn., which at one time was the largest independent union in the state. However, in the past three years, the association has been torn apart by dissension. Former General Manager Wyleen Luoma and her top aide were fired last year when allegations of misconduct and abuse of authority were leveled at Luoma.
A new CEA executive board has failed to heal the differences among the various units, which range from office workers and professionals to blue-collar employees. Leaders of some units represented by the CEA have said they are afraid the group is too weak and in too much turmoil to represent workers who may be threatened by the proposed cutbacks.
Consequently, nervous workers from some units are hoping to merge with an outside union.
In the years since he left the White House, former President Bill Clinton has become a New Yorker. He has an office in Harlem, sits in courtside seats at Nets games and spends summers days in exclusive Hamptons enclaves.
He has also spent years schmoozing with nearly every Democratic elected official, union leader and constituency that makes this raucous city work.
Those relationships are paying off as the Democratic contest heads to the April 19 primary in New York and Hillary Clinton looks to defeat SenatorBernie Sanders of Vermont in the state where she served as a United States senator. It is also where she and her husband had had resounding victories in previous primary campaigns.
As Mrs. Clinton held a rally in Purchase, N.Y., on Thursday before heading to Syracuse on Friday, Mr. Clinton crisscrossed Manhattan hosting campaign events with union members and mostly minority voters.
“The New York primary and the psychological impact it will have on the rest of the country and the rest of this race is not — I don’t have the words to explain it,” Mr. Clinton, who is not typically at a loss for words, told members of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York on Thursday afternoon in the city’s Flatiron district. “I can just tell you that, for her, it means more than you will ever know.”
As Mr. Sanders hopes for an upset to humiliate Mrs. Clinton on her home turf and revive his underdog candidacy, the Clintons are grinding for a New York victory that will solidify her delegate lead and put a proverbial lid on any doubts about her candidacy.
“Look, this primary is really important,” Mr. Clinton said Thursday. “It’s important to her personally because she loved being a senator, and she knows this state and she knows what its promise is.”
By the late afternoon, Mr. Clinton was talking to teachers in Battery Park City and reciting exact polling data from when Mrs. Clinton ran for the Senate in New York in 2000 (“The last poll said she was three points ahead,” he said. “She won by 12.”) and about her approval rating (“When she left the State Department job, she had 69 percent approval rating.”)
Mr. Clinton’s work on behalf of his wife in New York has also been waged quietly and behind the scenes as he taps into decades-long relationships to help her win in the state.
On Monday, Mr. Clinton met with more than 50 religious and community leaders in Harlem and Queens to discuss issues that have particular resonance among African-Americans, like criminal justice reform. Representatives Charles B. Rangel and Gregory W. Meeks attended, along with Rev. Calvin O. Butts III of Abyssinian Baptist Church and City Councilwoman Inez E. Dickens.
The former president held similar meetings with Latino leaders in the Bronx at sessions that included Congressman José E. Serrano and Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president.
On Thursday morning, Mr. Clinton, speaking to members of the Service Employees International Union in Midtown, recalled Mr. Diaz’s memories of his first visit to the Bronx in 1992.
“When Jimmy Carter came, he said, ‘Oh, the poor Bronx, we have to help them,’” Mr. Clinton said. “When Ronald Reagan came, he said, ‘Look at the Bronx, it’s a mess.’” But, Mr. Clinton, continued, “He said ‘When you came, you said I see the future.’”
“We always support who supports us,” said Ken Telford, 62, a union organizer who came to hear Mr. Clinton on Thursday
New Yorkers have not always been so welcoming.
In 1992, after rumors of infidelity rocked his presidential campaign, the then-governor of Arkansas had a rude awakening in New York. A New York Times article described him as “a smiling tourist who has made eye contact with the wrong pedestrian” and The New York Post ran the headline “Gennifer & Bill Romped in Our Apt: Ex-Roomie.”
But Mr. Clinton learned the city and its spheres of influence. He wore a skullcap to Brooklyn to talk to Hasidic Jews in Borough Park after his opponent, Jerry Brown , the former and current governor of California, had upset Jews by appearing with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had referred to New York as “Hymietown.”
On Wednesday, accepting an award from the Irish America Hall of Fame for his work on the peace process in Northern Ireland, Mr. Clinton recalled bonding with the Irish in New York, another group Mrs. Clinton will need in the primary.
“What happened to me — and it sort of happened to me — began here in this city, late at night, almost exactly 24 years ago when I was trying to win the New York primary,” he said.
That night, a group of powerful Irish-Americans and sympathizers, including Harold M. Ickes, a Clinton adviser, and former Representative Bruce Morrison of Connecticut, had assembled to talk to Mr. Clinton about the fighting that plagued Northern Ireland.
Years later, after Mr. Clinton helped to broker the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that effectively ended the conflict in Northern Ireland, his daughter, Chelsea, wrote her senior thesis at Stanford about the history of Irish-American politics. “She said: ‘You know, Dad, you didn’t care about this when you came to New York. You just wanted the Irish to vote for you,’” Mr. Clinton recalled.
“Well, not quite, but close enough,” he said. “‘But afterward, you really did care,’” Mr. Clinton said his daughter had told him.
Hillary Clinton at Seiu Convention FULL Speech. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes remarks to members of the Service Employees Union at the organization’s 2016 convention in Detroit, Michigan. Hillary Clinton addressed the Service Employees International Union on Monday at its national convention in Detroit. Clinton is trying to solidify her support while U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont continues to wage his uphill campaign to defeat her and gain concessions at the July 25-28 national convention in Philadelphia. Clinton’s speech in Detroit comes two weeks before the final group of Democratic presidential primaries on June 7. This includes California’s primary, which democratic socialist Sanders has staked out as his last chance of denying Clinton the nomination outright. seiu vernita randall attended the international convention Monday and said Clinton, the former U.S. senator from New York, is more prepared to work with a Republican Congress than Sanders. “Bernie does have some good points, but because we’re so polarized, I think we need somebody who can be a centrist and reach across the lines and have a conversation to work together,” said Randall, who organizes health care industry unions.
“Today Congress approved devastating Medicaid cuts to fund $60 billion in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans – a disgraceful display of lawmakers’ wrongheaded priorities.
“These cuts clearly do not reflect the values of millions of American voters concerned about ever increasing health care bills.
“This harmful budget bill will take coverage away from thousands of seniors and children who will be forced to go without needed care. Restricting care for our most vulnerable residents will ultimately mean higher costs for families with private insurance, making our health care crisis even worse.
“Congress faced a simple choice today. But instead of getting results for working people on the most critical economic issue facing average Americans, Congress has done the unconscionable – passing a bill that eliminates health coverage for kids and seniors to line the pockets of the very rich.”
With 1.8 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. Focused on uniting workers in three sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide, SEIU is the largest health care union, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home care; the largest property services union, including building cleaning and security; and the second largest public employee union.
Seeking a shot at the American Dream, thousands of low-wage janitors who clean more than 60 percent of Houston’s office space have chosen to form a union with SEIU.
The janitors’ decision was certified in November by the independent American Arbitration Association (AAA).
The victory paves the way for more than 5,300 janitors, nearly all of them Latino immigrants, to bargain for affordable family health care, fair wages, improved working conditions, and a better life for their families.
The janitors’ victory is one of the largest successful organizing efforts by private sector workers in Texas history.
Over 750 University and Hospital Workers Joined By Students March on Stanford
November 2nd Two Rallies Held in Fight for Fair Contract
350 Hospital workers gathered in front of Stanford Hospital from all different departments wearing our scrubs and purple T-shirts. At the same time 300 University workers at White Plaza where 100 students joined them were holding a similar rally. All total over 750 workers and students rallied in support of our fight for a fair contract. Both rallies concluded by marching to the entrance of the University where we joined forces and took over the main intersection and held a spirited rally.
Striking workers from Sutter Hospital joined us in solidarity and spoke of their strike and offered their support. The rally ended with workers determined to continue in our fight. We will be holding more actions in the future. This was the largest rally and march held by a united Stanford work force in the history of our union. It was a huge success.
750 Strong March on Labor Day to Stanford Hospital
Over 750 workers from Stanford Hospital and University, Local 715 members from other Chapters, community allies, and other labor unions rallied and marched on Stanford on Labor Day September 5. Kristy Sermersheim, Executive Secretary of Local 715 led off the rally commending the University and Hospital Stanford workers for uniting to fight for a better contract and that Local 715 is behind this struggle all the way. State Assembly members Sally Lieber and Ira Ruskin addressed the rally and spoke in support of Stanford workers’ struggle for a decent contract. Ira Ruskin called on Stanford to pay “industry standards” for wages and benefits.