What about my trash pickup? Here’s what’s affected by the L.A. city workers’ strike

Los Angeles sanitation workers
A Los Angeles sanitation workers clean a street in 2022
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

For the first time in over a decade, thousands of Los Angeles city workers will walk off the job Tuesday, upending some services across the city for 24 hours.

Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents county and city employees across Southern California, said it expects more than 11,000 Los Angeles city workers to participate in the one-day strike.

That means lifeguards, traffic officers, airport custodians, engineers and sanitation workers will be among those on the picket lines Tuesday. Starting early in the morning, the services they provide could be affected.


According to the mayor’s office, animal shelters will be closed, and there will probably be fewer traffic officers out giving parking tickets.

Union leaders say dozens of locations across the city — Los Angeles International Airport, the Port of Los Angeles and City Hall, to name a few — will feel some effects as union members walk off the job over what they say are unfair labor practices by the city.

The one-day walkout, staged by SEIU Local 721, is expected to trigger the closure of animal shelters and at least some swimming pools and delay trash pickup until later in the week.

Aug. 8, 2023

Here’s what you should know to prepare to navigate the city Tuesday:

My trash is supposed to be picked up Tuesday. What should I expect?

Your trash will be collected Wednesday instead. With hundreds of trash collectors expected on the picket lines Tuesday, the city will push trash day one day back for everyone, as it does on holidays. Friday collections will take place on Saturday.

The collection schedule will return to normal by Monday, Aug. 14.

What if I want to swim at a pool?

SEIU said it expects about 300 of the lifeguards working at the dozens of swimming pools across the city to strike, meaning potential pool closures and canceled classes. As of Monday afternoon, the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks was still figuring out what that means for pool operations and whether it will be able to keep pools open without union lifeguards. You can check the city’s daily pool report on the Department of Recreation and Parks website for real-time updates before heading out to swim.

Will LAX be a mess?

Just make sure you leave extra time to get to and from the airport. Hundreds of employees at LAX — including custodians and shuttle drivers — are expected to be on the picket lines. Dae Levine, a spokesperson for Los Angeles World Airports, said LAX is working to ensure “operations will continue as close to normal as possible,” but recommended passengers arrive a little earlier than they normally would.

Airport security will be staffed as normal, though. SEIU has given a “line pass” — explicit permission to cross the picket line — to the security workers at LAX. The union has also given a line pass to detention officers, so the jails operated by the Los Angeles Police Department will be staffed as normal.


In the first major walkout by Los Angeles city government workers in decades, thousands walked off the job Tuesday.

Aug. 8, 2023

What services won’t be touched by the strike?

The mayor’s office said it expects homeless and housing services run by the city to continue operating as usual Tuesday. However, homeless encampment cleanings scheduled for the day of the strike are now expected to take place Saturday.

Libraries, preschools and day-care facilities operated by the city are expected to be open as usual. Police and fire services are also unlikely to be affected; firefighters and police are banned from striking.

Anything else I should look out for?

The Port of Los Angeles and the city’s Department of Transportation both have hundreds of SEIU members, so expect some disruption there. A spokesperson for the port, which has 300 employees represented by SEIU, says it will continue operating despite the strike. More than 500 traffic officers in charge of parking enforcement and directing traffic at concerts and other events are also expected to be off the job Tuesday.

More service disruptions could crop up if other city unions join the thousands of SEIU workers at the picket lines Tuesday as union leadership has urged them to do.

“We do expect folks to be out on lines with us,” SEIU spokesperson Mike Long said.

AFSCME, which represents roughly 10,000 employees in nearly every city department, said in a statement it supports SEIU’s strike and has notified members of “their right to honor SEIU’s picket line.”