8/30/08

SEIU strike tees up diplomatic win for Mayor

Labor-Day strike at LAX side-stepped thanks to union-backed Villaraigosa

Workers at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) returned to their jobs on Friday, one day after they went on strike over issues of wages, benefits and allegedly unfair labor practices. The workers, who provide "curb to cabin" services for major airlines, returned to work under an agreement negotiated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The agreement, which went into effect at 8 a.m., calls for three-week "cooling off" period and for union leaders to resume negotiations with contractors.

As a result of the "cooling off" agreement, there are no plans to picket the airport for the next three weeks, said Mike Chavez, a spokesman for Local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Earlier this morning, Chavez said in a statement that the strike would be going into a second day on Friday and that the job action would be expanding, with picketing taking place outside every terminal at LAX.

"In these difficult economic times for the airline industry and for hard-working Angelenos at the airport, we must come together to find a solution that meets the needs of workers and the airline industry," Villaraigosa said.

"I am urging the workers and contractors, with the support of the airlines, to come to a fair agreement that ensures quality services and keeps passengers moving safely and efficiently at the international gateway to Southern California."

Chavez said employees immediately went back to work once the agreement was reached.

A bargaining session on Thursday morning between the union and the companies that employ the workers failed to produce agreement on a new contract, prompting the decision to strike, said SEIU Local 1877, which represents about 2,500 airline service workers at LAX.

The workers, who earn about 10 dollars an hour, are not employed by the airlines, but by sub-contractors.

Union officials said the companies have refused to make a contract offer that included improvements in training or wage and benefit increases despite months of negotiations and the presence of a federal mediator at this week's talks.

An estimated 825,000 passengers will arrive and depart on flights at LAX over the four-day Labor Day weekend.

(news.xinhuanet.com)

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