Several streets in downtown Los Angeles were closed Tuesday morning as hundreds of county workers walked out of their jobs and marched to demand higher wages.
As crowds massed outside the downtown Hall of Administration, demonstrators started chanting with music from Public Enemy's "Fight the Power," Snap's "I've Got the Power" and Aretha Franklin’s "Respect" blaring in the background.
One man yelled out: "We're getting ready to march down to the Board of Supervisors, where we're going to raise some hell!"
Union organizers said the workers would move along Grand Avenue from California Plaza to the south steps of the Hall of Administration, where they will call for higher wages and other proposals, such as reducing the number of caseloads for social workers and the closure of loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying property taxes that support county services.
The march led to the closure of streets around the event. Drivers are encourage to find alternative routes or stay away from the area.
According to the Service Employees International Union, which represents 55,000 county employees, the current contract for county workers expired at midnight. They say that for months, county administrators have been unresponsive to proposals that the union has made. Organizers are calling on the county management to return to the bargaining table.
“We are concerned about working people throughout the county,” said Oscar Valladare, a county Department of Mental Health worker and SEIU, Local 721 executive board member. “Of course, we want a fair contract so that we can provide for our families, but our priority is taking care of the communities we serve every day.”