AFSCME Local 800 members rally for fair contract

AFSCME Local 800 members rallied outside the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFSLA) building Tuesday to demand a fair contract.

The rally was in response to JFSLA management engaging in anti-union activities and refusing to settle a fair contract with the Union’s bargaining team. AFSCME Local 800 members are essential to the services JFSLA offers and yet, they have not been offered a wage increase that would help combat record-high inflation rates, even though JFSLA leadership makes six-figure salaries and receive annual wage increases far surpassing those offered to employees. “What JFSLA management has been doing is appalling,” says AFSCME Council 36 Negotiator Mathew Kostrinsky. “They refuse to improve healthcare benefits, increase wages to keep up with the cost of living, and properly compensate employees for additional skills like being bilingual and obtaining a class C driver’s license. They have also been denying our members their basic Union rights.”

Karina Balaban, a case manager and social worker I for the Holocaust program, told rallygoers that she and her coworkers love serving their community and the Holocaust survivors they work with, but the low wages are forcing workers to find employment elsewhere. “When I first started working at JFS, I was told that people would stay here for 25 years and now those people are leaving. Why?” said Balaban, who is also a member of the Local 800 bargaining team. “When I ask them, they say it’s not the same JFS. They don’t have the same values and leadership is poor.”

The Local 800 bargaining team is simply asking JFSLA leadership to actually uphold the Jewish values they claim they do by bargaining in good faith and settling a fair contract. The members will continue to fight for the benefits and wages they deserve. “I feel that we can finally change something, and we can fight for better wages, not minimum wages but better wages,” said Balaban. “We do deserve to only have to work one job. We do deserve to have adequate benefits.”