We are proud to share the news about a major victory for our movement in Los Angeles, where the Coalition of LA City Unions has reached a tentative deal with the city after more than a year of tense contract bargaining.
As many of you know, unions representing LA City employees teamed up with community and faith-based groups in 2014 to form the Fix LA Coalition, which sought to restore vital City programs and services that have been cut during the Great Recession. Fix LA called attention to how severe cuts by City officials had left garbage on the streets, sewage overflows, unfilled potholes, torn-up sidewalks, and untrimmed trees to afflict Los Angeles residents. At the same time, the coalition released a groundbreaking report detailing how the LA spends $334 million per year on fees to big banks – more than its entire annual budget for street construction and maintenance. Together, workers and community partners held rallies, protested, launched petitions, released reports, and even authorized a strike to persuade Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to invest in Los Angeles communities, not Wall Street banks. By using collective bargaining to leverage positive change, the Fix LA Coalition faithfully applied the principles of Bargaining for the Common Good to its campaign.
The new contract agreement between the City and its workers is a huge victory for the Fix LA Coalition and those who believe in Common Good Bargaining. It features a first-ever commitment by the City of Los Angeles to add 5,000 additional employees by fiscal year 2017-18. The City had reduced its civilian workforce by thousands as a result of the revenue losses from the economic crisis. It establishes a Commission on Revenue Generation to identify fair sources of revenue for LA to prevent a future disruption in city services. The commission will be funded by the City and explicitly is tasked with looking at the exorbitant costs of Wall Street deals among other issues. The deal also protects workers compensation and healthcare benefits, improves pension savings, and provides a substantial raise for city workers.
An important component of Bargaining for the Common Good philosophy is that labor unions and community groups join together as equal partners to form community demands and move the campaign forward. This held true for every aspect of the Fix LA campaign, which took the unprecedented step of including community leaders in many of the bargaining sessions with city officials. The Fix LA Coalition also helped accomplish another one of its goals by strongly supporting the bold campaign that raised the City’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The success of the Fix LA campaign demonstrates clearly that labor unions can deliver for their members by standing up for the common good.