Bet Tzedek union members held informational picket

AFSCME Local 946 members held an informational picket outside of Bet Tzedek Legal Services Wednesday afternoon to demand a fair contract.

The picket was in response to Bet Tzedek management refusing to offer fair wage increases and fair healthcare benefits to the union. The union and Bet Tzedek negotiators have been bargaining for six months but negotiations have stalled. Bet Tzedek’s latest wage increase offer is well below the local and national average and they are ignoring the union’s long-established salary step system. In addition to low wage increases, Bet Tzedek is offering healthcare benefits that do not include coverage for long-term temp employees. “This is about us demanding what we deserve,” said Leisette Rodriguez, president of AFSCME Local 946. “We advocate for the most marginalized populations in our communities and now we must do the same for ourselves.”

Bet Tzedek has not given the union a reason as to why they cannot offer higher wage increases. Bet Tzedek has not stated that they are having financial issues and have not been completely transparent with its current financial state. “Bet Tzedek needs to be honest about why they are denying us fair raises,” said Kim Selfon, an IHSS & Medi-Cal Policy Specialist at Bet Tzedek. “It’s time for Bet Tzedek to do the right thing. It’s time for us to settle a fair contract.”

AFSCME Local 946 members, who are attorneys, paralegals, support staff, and social workers, work with marginalized communities across Los Angeles County. They love what they do and are passionate about helping others, but don’t believe that they should have to struggle financially to do so. “Bet Tzedek helps people so it’s about time they start helping their employees,” California State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago told the crowd. “It makes no sense to go to work and not be able to afford the things you afforded yesterday.”

The phrase Bet Tzedek means house of justice in Hebrew and AFSCME Local 946 members are asking management to live up to that name by settling a fair contract now. The union is prepared to keep picketing until management offers them fair wage increases and healthcare benefits.