L.A. county workers are latest to walk out

The 'L' in L.A. now stands for labor, as 42,000 county employees, including those who work in jails, libraries, beaches, and health clinics, began a general strike yesterday.

The county workers are just the latest labor group to strike this year in Los Angeles. The city's mass-transit workers walked off the job last month, and SAG and AFTRA commercial actors have been on strike for more than five months, the longest such walkout in Hollywood.

Yesterday's strike could affect a vast array of public services and many of the 10 million residents in the 4,083-square-mile county.

Pickets were planned at about 250 locations, said Bart Diener, assistant general manager of Service Employees International Union Local 660.

The strike was expected to multiply problems for many low-income people already coping with the 26-day-old strike that has halted Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus and rail lines used by 450,000 riders.

Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order preventing nurses, lab technicians, physical therapists, and other medical employees from striking.

The court ruled that their absence would create a danger to public health.

Librarians, beach maintenance workers, and crews that control sewer maintenance were among the employees joining the strike, Mr. Diener said.

Contract negotiations ended Sept. 29 with the two sides far apart on pay. The union wants 15.5 percent raises over three years, while the county has offered a 9 percent increase.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority made their "last, best and final offer" Tuesday evening to the United Transportation Union, whose 4,300 bus and rail drivers remain on strike.

The transit strike is one of the longest in the city's history.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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