The grocery strike, on the other hand, seemed no closer to ending this week as both sides continued to dig in their heels. Los Angeles County Federation of Labor chief Miguel Contreras said grocery workers were trying to keep the health benefits they have, not just to keep taking care of their families but also to avoid becoming a burden on the taxpayer-funded county health system.
Meanwhile, a sickout by Sheriff’s deputies over health benefits continued, and county workers who belong to SEIU Local 660 rallied to protect their own health benefits and to protest their lack of a new contract. New actions are in the works for hotel and restaurant workers.
“Who would have thought, 10 years ago, that Los Angeles would be a union city?” Contreras asked. But the County Fed leader also knew that the grocery strike would become more of a challenge to sustain as the holidays grow close — and that labor’s seemingly enormous clout and prestige in California were dealt a blow by the vote to recall Governor Gray Davis and the election of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him.
Hahn, Yaroslavsky and other city and county leaders took time out Monday from their talks with, or about, striking workers to dedicate the new Walt Disney Concert Hall, but the strain of the labor strife was evident. Only one person on the stage at the event seemed unfazed. It was Gray Davis, who sat beaming through the 100-degree heat. He may have been thinking that whatever happens with health care and labor unrest, it was no longer his problem.