LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Service Worker Strike Targets Hospital
Poised to enter the "most sensitive phase of their ongoing single-day strikes" today, 47,000 Los Angeles County workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 660 are set to strike the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center and county clinics, the Los Angeles Times reports. By striking those facilities, Local 660 is targeting the "massive" Department of Health Services, where the union has the "greatest clout," representing 18,000 of the department's 22,000 employees. The union is seeking "greater across-the-board" pay increases for all workers. Even employees not represented by the union, including physicians, have said they will join today's strike in "solidarity." The Times reports that strikes will occur at other hospitals Friday and next week.
Picketing the Jails
Yesterday's strike targeted the Sheriff's Department, with nurses, cooks and clerks picketing jails. Officials said that yesterday's strike impaired the law enforcement agency's ability to dispense 6,500 daily prescriptions needed by sick inmates; only lifesaving medications were distributed. Lt. Richard Mouk, who oversees the department's medical services in jails, said the strike "is a severe impact, and I'm not going to soft-pedal it. We can limp through a 24-hour situation, hopefully, but we certainly wouldn't want this to continue." The strike threatens to have more severe effects if it goes countywide. County Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen said, "If they have a countywide strike that has as many people walking off the job as have been day to day, you can't plan for that. You can't replace those people." Neither the union's nor the county's position has changed this week, keeping both sides from the bargaining table (Riccardi/Shuster, Los Angeles Times, 10/5).