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.

LA Weekly