L.A. County workers avoid strike and agree to raises of at least 12% over three years

A person holds a "Union Strong" card.
Public health nurse Markeitha Harris outside Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center on May 26, 2022, after union workers reached a tentative contract agreement.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

About 55,000 Los Angeles County employees have reached a tentative contract agreement that includes a double-digit raise over three years, averting a threatened strike.

Many of the union-represented employees, including custodians, parks and recreation staffers and social workers, are covered by provisions agreed to this month that include a 12% raise over three years.

About 7,000 nurses and other healthcare workers continued to hold out and were on the brink of a three-day strike before negotiators agreed Thursday morning to a 15% raise over three years, as well as double pay for overtime and potential concessions on outsourcing.


Union members must still vote to approve the contract, and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors must also sign off.

“We haven’t slept,” said David Green, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 721. “We wanted something fair for our nurses who have done so much during the pandemic.”

According to SEIU officials, the county has offered a 2% raise each year for the next three years. That doesn’t keep up with inflation, they said.

March 31, 2022

Katarina Del Valle Thompson, an organizer for registered nurses, said outsourcing was a major sticking point, particularly the county’s hiring of traveling nurses.

Negotiations progressed, Del Valle Thompson said, when the county agreed to an additional 3.2% pay bump over the next three years for nurses.

“I was not certain up until the time of an agreement that we would not strike,” said Del Valle Thompson, 70, who was an organizer when 4,000 nurses walked off the job in January 1988. “We didn’t want to strike, but we would have if necessary.”

The 7,000 nurses and other healthcare workers are stationed at facilities including Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.


“The county didn’t appreciate us or take us seriously after everything we did during the pandemic,” said Markeitha Harris, a public health nurse. “It wasn’t right, and we were ready to strike.”

Harris said that during the COVID-19 pandemic’s first surge in 2020, she purchased her own N95 masks when county supplies ran low.

People, many in purple, march in a street.
About 5,000 workers from the SEIU Local 721 rallied at the Kenneth Hall of Administration Building in downtown Los Angeles on March 31.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

She has delayed vacations and worked all but two days of a recent vacation that was supposed to last two weeks, she said.

A statement from L.A. County Chief Executive Fesia Davenport’s office said the county was “pleased to have reached a tentative agreement.”

“In all our negotiations, the county’s objective is to reach fair and fiscally responsible agreements that recognize the essential contributions of our valued workforce,” the statement read.


All 55,000 workers will be eligible for up to $195 each month to offset rising healthcare premiums and a $100 to $375 monthly stipend for child and elder care.

The county also pledged to expand telework opportunities, reduce contracting with outside vendors and improve life insurance and public transportation options.