A pair of labor disputes that could have far-reaching effects on the L.A. economy are edging into the spotlight. Tomorrow morning Local 675 of the United Steelworkers of America will seek a strike sanction from the L.A. County Federation of Labor. The union, whose local and national negotiating committees have been in contract talks since December, is facing off against an array of South Bay refineries that include British Petroleum in Long Beach, ConocoPhillips in Wilmington and Torrance's Exxon Mobile Refining and Supply. A strike that would begin February 1 could shut down at least eight refineries, with unforeseen consequences at gasoline pumps.
Meanwhile, eight locals from the Utility Workers Union of America
and the International Chemical Workers Union, which are in contract
talks with the Department of Water and Power, will also seek a strike
sanction from the County Fed. Last Sunday rank and file members from the locals filled the Pasadena Convention Center and voted by a four-to-one margin to strike if a tentative agreement isn't hammered out by January 31.
In today's L.A. Times, Ron White, while noting
the DWP unions rarely go on strike, said the issues holding up their
contract talks are the increasingly familiar ones revolving around
health-care costs and pension benefits. The current contract is an
extension of one that expired a year ago. A press conference will be
held at noon Friday, following the County Fed's decisions regarding the
two strike-sanction requests.