LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Cardinal’s Intervention Ends Workers’ Strike
Following a "dramatic intervention" by Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Service Employees International Union Local 660 agreed late last night to call off the day-old strike by Los Angeles County workers, the Los Angeles Times reports. The agreement was contingent on the Board of Supervisors' promise not to "retaliate" against county workers who joined picket lines. Mahony said that the strike was disproportionately affecting the county's poorer citizens, and added, "It is my firm belief that the issues raised by both parties will be resolved only through continuous, face-to-face good faith negotiations rather than through a protracted strike." Local 660 general manager Annelle Grajeda said the strike suspension was "temporary" and was based on "confidence that good-faith bargaining can produce a fair agreement." However, she warned that the strike could resume if talks do not progress. County Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen said, "I am delighted that SEIU has chosen to respond to Cardinal Mahony's request that they return to the table and that the county improve its practices in regard to the treatment of striking workers." Many union members disapproved of halting the strike. One member said, "They sold us out." Other workers, "living paycheck to paycheck," asked why Local 660 had not set up a strike fund to help the workers cope through a walkout. Local 660 "acknowledged that some" of its members did report to work yesterday, although "thousands of others stayed off work" (Riccardi/Rabin, Los Angeles Times, 9/12).
Health Care Facilities Suffer
Although most county offices were affected by yesterday's walkoff, county hospitals and clinics were "hit especially hard," despite a court order Tuesday requiring nurses and medical staff to report to work (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/11). In fact, some nurses at County-USC Medical Center defied the order and joined the picket lines, which meant that "linens were slow to be changed, supplies were not delivered and doctors had to write out orders and dispense medicines themselves." Hit by the strike Tuesday, the hospital's trauma center was closed until yesterday afternoon, forcing "severely injured patients" to be transferred to private hospitals. James Lott, executive vice president of the Healthcare Association of Southern California, said private hospitals witnessed a 30% rise in patients requiring intensive care. "Many of these hospitals don't have the nursing and physician staff at a level to take care of the increased number of patients they are getting," he said (Los Angeles Times, 10/12).