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LAX strike ends after mayor intervenes

August 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Airline service workers on strike at LAX returned to work Friday morning.Contract negotiations between the Service Employees International Union and nine contractors that serve major airlines at LAX had broken down, initiating a walkout at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Now, both sides are set to return to the bargaining table next week, but workers have not ruled out the possibility of returning to the picket line if a deal is not reached within the next three weeks.

"Hopefully this crisis, this attention, will bring in the true engagement from the airlines because they really hold the purse strings," said Mike Garcia, SEIU president of local 1877.

Twenty-five-hundred service employees at LAX had gone on strike Thursday, affecting United, American and Southwest at the start of a busy holiday weekend.

However, after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa apparently brokered a deal whereby talks would resume. The deal includes a three-week cooling period between the union and airline contractors.

Villaraigosa issued a statement that read, "In these difficult economic times for the airline industry and for the hard-working Angelenos at the airport, we must come together to find a solution that meets the needs of workers and the airline industry."

It was a sudden celebration as workers put down their picket signs.

"I'm so happy, and I'm happy that I'm going back to work, and I'm happy because they're going to sit down and negotiate," said worker Paula Lopez.

The workers are not employed by LAX; they're employed by subcontractors. The workers say they want higher wages and affordable health care.

These are the airline service workers who do the jobs from the curb to the cabin, including wheelchair attendants, skycaps and janitors.

SEIU officials said they know the airlines are struggling with costs, but they said so are the workers.

 

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