By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
And so, with Valley Vote’s ”Reorganization Proposal,“ the diverse-city paradigm reverted to the old 1941 ideal of a minimalist urban identity, this time in the form of ungated, 1.3-million-population Hidden Hills with its 68 percent Anglo voters. It‘s on the ballot with a plan to separate Hollywood as well.
With just over five months of campaigning time left, the most recent Times polling suggests the Valley secessionists are ahead -- most surprisingly, with not just a majority of Valley voters but 48 percent of non-Valley L.A. favoring secession. Obviously, the dilatory official anti-secession movement faces a very tough fight.
If the measure loses, though, a lot of credit will go to an increasingly important bunch of stakeholders who were too long out of the L.A. power game: organized labor. Divided in the 2001 mayor’s race between support for Jim Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa, labor seems fully committed to battle secession. Spearheading the effort -- not surprisingly -- is the Service Employees‘ International Union Local 337, which represents Los Angeles city employees. But the county Federation of Labor and its member unions, such as Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 300, are also weighing in on this one. Laborers spokesman Jim Hilfenhaus admitted that some of his 7,000 members have been seduced by the talk of Valley independence. ”But they trust us. They know it means fewer jobs for them. Valley Vote can go after their hearts. We go after their heads.“
Local 347 General Manager Julie Butcher sees secession as threatening the salaries and possibly the jobs of around 9,000 current city employees. Butcher said, ”If the Valley contracts with the city [for services], it will probably demand a say in union negotiations, threatening to take business elsewhere if . . . the unions don‘t comply.“
Hilfenhaus said that while prospective Valley city plans are unspecific about hiring, those for the city of Hollywood explicitly favor out-contracting. He further noted that the entertainment guilds and unions have all lined up to strongly oppose secession: ”If it passes, it could mean three different permits for shooting one movie in Los Angeles: talk about runaway filmmaking.“ And runaway jobs.
So in what was for so long a notoriously anti-labor city, what is so far the broadest force to keep the city whole is organized labor. This fact is going to remain significant even if the Valley gets the votes to secede.
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