Thousands of county workers rallied outside the Hall of Administration Tuesday in support of pay raises, which they say the $24.7 billion budget can now support because it shows the county is back on solid financial footing.
The workers gathered as County CEO Bill Fujioka prepared to formally present the budget to the Board of Supervisors.
“Our message to Mr. Fujioka and the board is: it’s time for L.A. County workers to get a raise,” said Marlene Allen of the Department of Public Social Services, addressing the crowd gathered on Temple Street. “We know the budget that Mr. Fujioka is presenting doesn’t call for any cuts and that’s a good thing because we don’t need cuts. But the question is, does it call for a raise?”
SEIU represents 55,000 county workers, from nurses to clerical workers, who have not had salary increases or cost-of-living adjustments since 2009. As a result, the county has not issued furloughs or layoffs.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Fujioka said the county is open to what labor is requesting.
“Our employees have been great, have sacrificed over the last four years," Fujioka said. "Our board has already stated publicly that when possible, we will be talking to our labor groups about, say, a cost of living increase."
Supervisor Gloria Molina said she agreed with the employees who showed up to rally and testify before the Board of Supervisors.
"There's no doubt that our economy is getting a little bit better," said Molina, who ducked out of the Supervisors meeting after public testimony had ended. "Our budget is reflective of that and I think it is time that we as a board respect the contributions that [county employees] made for almost the last six years. It's time for them to get an increase."
Negotiations between the Service Employees International Union and the county are scheduled to begin on June 15.