CITY UNION SEEKS WIDE LABOR BACKING FOR STRIKE.
After a two-day strike last month had little impact on City Hall, the Engineers & Architects Association asked on Tuesday for the support of county labor leaders in an attempt to ensure that other unions would honor the picket line if the EAA strikes again.
EAA leaders hope an official strike sanction from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, an umbrella organization overseeing 350 unions, would reinvigorate the EAA's campaign for higher wages and also pressure other unions to stay off the job if the EAA mounts another job action.
``Next time ... it will be more serious than the last time, and we probably won't come back until we get (an agreement),'' said Robert Aquino, EAA executive director.
During the Aug. 22-23 strike, an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 EAA members - including engineers, land surveyors and veterinarians - demonstrated at venues around the city, and several thousand more of the union's 7,400 members failed to show up for work.
Longshoremen walked off the job one morning at the city's deep-water port, and some Teamsters and Operating Engineers refused to cross the picket line at Los Angeles International Airport. But most other municipal employees ignored the demonstrations and continued to work on city business.
Individual unions still decide whether to support a walkout. The Service Employees International Union is among groups that have a no-strike clause in their contract, but others can choose to honor another union's picket line.
The strike sanction would also require the Federation of Labor to attempt to mediate the union's issues with the city in the hope of pressuring Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to reconsider the EAA's demands for higher wages.
Villaraigosa has refused the EAA's demand for parity in wages with employees of the Department of Water and Power.
In a letter sent to Maria Elena Durazo, the federation's head, Aquino wrote:
``It seemed you were implying that EAA members' struggle to obtain a fair (cost-of-living increase) might not be as important as maintaining a good relationship with L.A.'s mayor. I understood you to mean that the mayor's role in assisting noncity employees was so important that the federation might have to sacrifice the needs of my members.
``To choose one union over another is like choosing to love one child more than another.''
Federation spokeswoman Mary Gutierrez said her group had not received Aquino's letter and could not comment on his request for a strike sanction.
The City Council voted last month to impose a contract on the EAA that gives members no raise the first year, but subsequent increases totaling 6.25 percent - an agreement accepted by 17,000 other city workers.
By comparison, the DWP workers received a five-year contract with increases of 3.25 annually.
Villaraigosa has said the EAA's contract demands would add $17.5 million to the budget, and the city cannot afford it.
Spokesman Matt Szabo said the City Council has already enacted raises for EAA members, so future work actions would be senseless.
``We do not expect any future work action but the city will be prepared to protect critical services under any circumstances.''
Also Tuesday, Villaraigosa directed City Administrative Officer Bill Fujioka and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo to evaluate the lessons learned during the two-day strike in August and see how to improve response. For instance, court orders barring some critical workers from striking were not served to several hundred of those affected.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 6, 2006|
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