Ten thousand city workers who drive garbage trucks, run water treatment plants, sweep city streets and issue parking tickets voted late Friday to grant union negotiators the power to call a walkout or even a strike if they can't reach a contract deal with the City of Los Angeles over raises and benefits.
An overwhelming 86 percent of workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721 voted to authorize a work stoppage, though no such action has been called, according to a union press release:
"Nine months ago we began a journey determined to Fix LA by protecting and growing the good jobs that keep our city running, and tonight our overwhelming vote authorizing a strike demonstrates the determination of thousands of hardworking men and women to improve the communities we live in and serve."
The union, which represents about 60 percent of city staff, has been without a contract for nine months as negotiators have tried to cut a deal with officials regarding L.A.'s pay raise freeze and the city's demand that workers pay more into retirement and health care premiums, according to the L.A. Times. Among Local 721's demands is that the city restore thousands of jobs lost during the recession.
In a video uploaded to the union's YouTube account showing the vote count Friday, Jacob Miller, a worker with the Department of Animal Services, said members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions that includes Local 721 were "getting a bum deal from the city, and it's time to take it to where it needs to go."