Feb 16, 2015
On February 10, thousands of Los Angeles city workers briefly walked off their jobs at more than 70 work sites to protest big concessions that officials are trying to ram down their throats. These include a three-year wage freeze and big increases in what workers pay for health and pension benefits.
City officials claim that the city is broke; there is no money. No kidding! The banks, big developers, airlines, shipping companies, entertainment conglomerates, major retailers and other corporate honchos have been bleeding the city dry. One example: a recent report by a coalition of municipal unions, including SEIU Local 721 and AFSCME District 36, revealed that a few Wall Street banks collect more than 300 million dollars in transaction fees and commissions from Los Angeles ... every single year! And that’s not counting all the interest and principal payments that the city pays out on its debt.
Those giveaways to big business are growing bigger. The day after the walkout, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law a series of increasingly large tax cuts for the biggest businesses over the next three years.
City officials expect workers to pay the bill. During the recession, government officials had already cut 5,000 municipal jobs, imposed furloughs and increased what workers paid for retirement pensions. Reacting to the new concession demands, Marshall Tucker, a 58-year-old truck driver, told the Los Angeles Times, “We did everything the city asked. Now the economy is getting better and they’re asking us to do more and more.”
Just like for workers everywhere, the only way for municipal workers to defend their interests is by organizing and fighting back.