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Complaint Alleging County Job Bias Filed : Latinos, Indians ‘Opt Out’ of Action by Service Employees Union

From Times Wire Services

A complaint accusing Los Angeles County of race and sex discrimination was filed Monday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by a union representing 48,000 county government workers.

Shortly after the filing was announced by members of the Service Employees International Union, locals 660, 434 and 535, several Mexican-American and Indian groups denounced the complaint and said they would ask members to “opt out of the SEIU class-action complaint in order to protect the rights of Hispanic employees to pursue claims without being bound by the actions of the SEIU.”

Phil Giarrizzo, general manager of SEIU Local 660, said he had not heard about the objections lodged by the California League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican-American Political Assn., the Los Angeles Regional American G.I. Forum and several other groups.

‘Landmark Case’

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“We do want and need cooperation in this matter,” he said. “In terms of size and complexity, this is a landmark case because it addresses so many issues.”

He said SEIU would welcome the support of the dissenting groups and would be “more than happy to sit down and discuss their concerns.” He said he had arranged earlier Monday to have lunch next week with Raul Nunez, president of the Los Angeles County Chicano Employees Assn., to talk about the complaint.

The SEIU was joined in its announcement of the filing by representatives from the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People and the California chapter of the National Organization for Women.

A year ago, the SEIU asked the county Board of Supervisors to conduct a study of county personnel standards.

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Still No Study

“To this day they have refused to conduct a study,” Giarrizzo said.

Ed Edelman, Board of Supervisors chairman, scheduled an executive session for today to get more details on the complaint and to hear from Ed Watson, head of personnel and employee relations for the county.

“He’s (Edelman) concerned about the county being charged with wage discrimination against women, Hispanics and blacks, so he wants to find out more about this,” said John Stodder, a spokesman for Edelman. “He wants to hear from both sides to see if there is any way to remedy this and forestall a lawsuit.”

Watson has told supervisors the complaint has no merit, Stodder added.

“Our position is to ask them (the supervisors) to conduct a study and deal with pay and promotional opportunities for women and minorities,” Giarrizzo said. “If the county is unwilling to do the study, we will move forward with full-scale litigation.

Look at Pay

“When we started looking at the issue of comparable worth, we found a large gap between men and women, and taken a step further, between race and color,” Giarrizzo said. “All women are paid less than men on an aggregate basis and blacks and Hispanic women are paid less than white women. Black and Hispanic men are paid less than white males.”

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But Nunez, along with Ramon Hernandez, president of the Mexican-American Correctional Assn., and Alan Clayton of the California League of United Latin American Citizens, issued a joint statement saying: “The evidence is absolutely clear that the two population groups who are under represented in county government--at all levels of employment--are Hispanics and American Indians.

“SEIU’s legal action does not appear to focus on this obvious under representation, nor focus on the primary victims at this time in history--Hispanics and American Indians,” they said.

The statement said the groups felt that in the complaint, Latinos and American Indians were “relegated to second-class status and asked to wait for relief while other concerns are made primary, once again.

“The county’s own statistics show that the county would have to hire approximately 6,200 Hispanics just to meet the county’s own stated goal of parity. American Indians are also grossly under represented,” the statement said.


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