AFSCME Local 800 members fight for fair contract

Members of AFSCME Local 800 who work at JVS SoCal and Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (JFGLA) picketed just after Labor Day to call on their employers to negotiate a fair contract.

The approximately 35 workers at JVS SoCal and 80 workers at JFGLA have been in negotiations for several months but management has yet to resolve issues regarding low wages, high turnover rates, expensive health insurance for dependents, and short staffing.

Both employers have offered abysmally low wage increases that would not provide livable wages for employees. Management at JFGLA has proposed a meager 3% for the first year of the contract, 2.5% for the second and third year, “Management is trying to force us to accept their low wage proposals by packaging them with the things we want including Juneteenth as a holiday, remote work and other benefits,” says AFSCME Local 800 President Lilia Arbona. “It feels like a strong-arm tactic.”

JVS SoCal’s wage increase offer is even lower. Management has offered a 2% wage increase for the first year of the contract, 1.5% for the second year, and 1.25% for the third year. In addition to low wage increase offers, JVS SoCal management is attempting to strip union members of their rights by forcing mandatory arbitration. They also refuse to set Juneteenth as a holiday.

Members have also been dealing with high turnover rates and understaffing caused by unlivable wages and skyrocketing health care costs. “The high turnover rate hinders the productivity of long-term staff. We are constantly spending time onboarding newer staff, which creates more stress and more work for longer term members,” said Arbona.

Both AFSCME Local 800 bargaining units return to the negotiations table this week. Hopefully, the growing outcry from members and community supporters will encourage management to settle a fair contract. “Workers at JVS SoCal and JFGLA are social services workers who help the most vulnerable members of our community and deserve to be compensated for their noble work,” said Marc Bender, union representative for AFSCME Local 800. “Families deserve healthcare. Workers deserve livable wages. Management needs to come to the table and give their workers what they deserve.”

AFSCME Local 800 members are prepared to continue picketing if management refuses to negotiate a fair contract.