Student Workers Accuse LA County of Bad-Faith Bargaining

After they voted to join a union last year, about 1,200 Los Angeles County student workers are negotiating their first contract. Their frustration over talks, they say, led them to organize a rally Tuesday because county negotiators won't budge. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: A lunchtime rally in the shadow of downtown L.A.'s County Hall of Administration attracted some curious county workers on break.

[Crowd call and response: "No contract, no peace. No health care, no peace."]

Guzman-Lopez: Cal State Dominguez Hills student Ryan Lincoln wants to be part of the county's permanent workforce. Nine months ago, Lincoln accepted a student worker position in L.A. County's social service agency for just over $9 an hour. He hopes it'll lead to a career as a probation officer.

Ryan Lincoln: I've been doing a lot of positions there. I've actually trained some clerks, which is a position, the lower level at the county position. I've actually trained some clerks to, that wasn't qualified, to do a job that I couldn't get.

Guzman-Lopez: Lincoln and the Service Employees International Union say student workers carry work loads and responsibilities that merit a contract with some medical insurance, paid days off, and a formal grievance process. Jim Adams, who's supervising L.A. County's side of the contract talks, says money's not the stumbling block. The union's demands, he says, don't match the job classification.

Jim Adams: Student workers are not essential employees to the central functions of the employer. It's employment of convenience, while they get work experience, and to help them through their college days.

Guzman-Lopez: Both sides have met at the bargaining table half a dozen times since March. They're scheduled to do it again next week.

Note: In the original version of this story that aired, we incorrectly identified Jim Adams. This has been corrected.

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