Politics

Garbage truck drivers, street sweepers among city workers consider strike

Workers with SEIU Local 721 rally against the city's proposed pension plan. Sept. 25, 2012.
Workers with SEIU Local 721 rally against the city's proposed pension plan. Sept. 25, 2012.
Alice Walton/KPCC

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If you live in Los Angeles, your street may get stinkier if the city and workers can't settle their differences over a contract.

Ten thousand city workers who drive trash trucks, run water treatment plants, sweep streets and issue parking tickets are voting this week on whether to authorize a strike. The vote ends tomorrow.

A yes vote doesn't guarantee a strike, but shows how strained the relationship has become between the city and members of Service Employees International Union Local 721. They have been working without a contract for nine months. 

The union is one of six representing about 17,000 workers, which is 60 percent of city staff. Those unions are all in contract talks with the city, but each is following its own timeline as to a strike authorization vote.

Among its demands, Local 721 wants thousands of jobs restored that were cut during the recession.

For its part, the city has been is demanding wages stay flat, employees begin paying health premiums and push off the age at which workers retire and begin collecting a pension, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The voting began Monday, and concludes Friday, said SEIU 721 spokeswoman Coral Itzcalli. It could take a few days for ballots to be counted and announced, she said.

The end of voting coincides with the end of the city's and unions' latest extension of mediation, said Scott Mann, spokesman for the Coalition of L.A. City Unions.