Hundreds of LA County workers rally to protect their jobs

Carrying "L.A. is NOT Wisconsin'' signs and wearing purple T-shirts reading "Clean Up Sodexo," more than 200 workers protested today outside the Board of Supervisors' meeting against a county proposal to award $11.2 million in hospital janitorial contracts to a company that union leaders claim would cut staff by as much as 30 percent.
Carrying "L.A. is NOT Wisconsin'' signs and wearing purple T-shirts reading "Clean Up Sodexo," more than 200 workers protested today outside the Board of Supervisors' meeting against a county proposal to award $11.2 million in hospital janitorial contracts to a company that union leaders claim would cut staff by as much as 30 percent. Corey Moore/KPCC

Hundreds of custodial employees and their supporters oppose a potential deal between Los Angeles County and a large maintenance contractor. County workers say the move would jeopardize their jobs.

Demonstrators formed a long line as they marched and chanted along Temple Street outside the county administration building in downtown LA. The LA County Board of Supervisors may decide to award contracts that allow an international company, Sodexo, to handle cleaning services in county hospitals.

Haydee Charvet wore her hospital scrubs. Charvet - a housekeeper at Olive View Medical Center in Sylmar - said the LA County Board of Supervisors should protect janitorial jobs.

“Disinfecting the isolation rooms - that takes time," said Charvet. "Disinfecting the ORs, disinfecting the labor and the delivery rooms... Where the babies are really sick... you need to take your time to do that, you need people to do that.”

Labor organizer Mike Garcia said that to save money, Sodexo could cut more than a quarter of the cleaning jobs at county-operated medical centers.

“Outsourcing may be necessary in today’s economy," said Garcia. "But the county needs to serve as an example to the rest of the world, that if they’re going to outsource, they must outsource responsibly, to make sure that the workers are handled and land on our feet with respect and dignity.”

During the supervisors’ meeting, protest organizers expressed their concerns, and dozens of workers chanted in protest.

No one from Sodexo addressed the supervisors. The current contract with hospital maintenance workers expires at the end of this month. LA County Supervisors expect to revisit the issue in a couple of weeks.

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