L.A. city workers stage one-day strike, latest in series of walkouts

By Jorge Garcia

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Los Angeles municipal employees went on a 24-hour strike on Tuesday to protest what their union calls bad-faith bargaining by city officials over a new contract, the latest in a series of job actions affecting Los Angeles.

Mechanics, lifeguards, traffic officers and others marched in picket lines at city hall and the Los Angeles International Airport, saying city management has engaged in unfair labor practices in contract negotiations.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721 said more than 11,000 workers went on strike in what the Los Angeles Times called the first major walkout of city workers in decades.

Outside the City Hall tower, hundreds of picketers in purple T-shirts and city uniforms marched through closed downtown streets, banging drums and ringing cowbells while hoisting signs in English and Spanish declaring “Striking for Respect.”

“We’re essential workers out here and we worked through the pandemic. We never wavered. And so just bargain in good faith and that’s all we’re asking. And when you don’t bargain in good faith, this is what happens,” said marching city worker Alfonzo Williams.

Some city services were unavailable as 40,000 nonstriking workers tried to pick up the slack, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement.

A number of the city’s 55 swimming pools shut down, and trash pickups were pushed back a day. Passengers departing from Los Angeles Airport were advised to arrive an hour earlier than usual in case of delays.

“The City of Los Angeles is not going to shut down,” the mayor said on social media, later adding: “The City will always be available to make progress with SEIU 721 and we will continue bargaining in good faith.”

The walkout is the latest in series of organized labor job actions in Los Angeles.

Hollywood writers have been on strike for three months, and actors went on strike three weeks ago. In July, thousands of hotel workers in Los Angeles staged a three-day strike over wages, benefits and working conditions. That followed a three-day strike by Los Angeles School District workers in April that canceled school for 420,000 students.

(Reporting by Jorge Garcia in Los Angeles, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Sharon Singleton and Cynthia Osterman)