L.A. Workers on Strike

About 42,000 county workers walked out on strike this morning, compounding the dilemmas for residents of Los Angeles, where the transit workers have been on strike for 26 days.

Although Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order to keep about 5,000 nurses, coroners and other medical employees from joining the strike, there were reports of nurses calling in sick this morning, said Bart Diener, the Assistant General Manager of the Service Employees International Union, Local 660.

“Certainly the union is abiding by the judge’s decision, but it is each nurse’s decision,” Diener said. “I’ve heard there’s a lot of people calling in sick.”

He said he was unsure how many nurses called in sick this morning and said the information remained anecdotal.

Wide Impact Foreseen The massive walkout was expected to hinder operations at a number of departments, including jails, libraries, animal services and marriage licenses.

Judy Hammond, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County, said the largest impacts are expected to be in medical areas as well as the registrar and recorders office.

“Yesterday was the last day to register to vote [before the presidential election]. It may jeopardize the election if this continues,” she said.

The strike will also delay the recording of thousands of deeds of homeowners trying to close escrow, as well as the recording of birth and death certificates.

Hammond said the real impact of the strike would not be known until later in the day when county officials are able to compile the numbers and more information.

The union had staged one-day walkouts since last week to demonstrate the potential effects of a general strike. Hammond said those actions helped in some way to give an indication of where problems may arise during the general strike.

15.5 Percent Raise Sought

County and union negotiators had agreed late Tuesday to resume talks for the first time since Sept. 29. But the late-night bargaining session did not avert today’s strike. The union wants 15.5 percent raises over three years; the county has offered a 9 percent increase.

“Everything’s booming. The economy’s booming because of tech stocks and everything. And the county claims that 15 percent would be out of the operating range,” said Tim Ash, a clerk.

Of the county union’s 47,000 workers, about 5,000 are medical workers.

“It will be up to doctors whether they will honor the picket lines,” union spokesman Mark Tarnawsky said. “I would expect some nurses would continue to work in extreme cases. They are not going to walk away from people who may die.”

Nearly 30 picketers carrying signs and umbrellas braved the rain early Wednesday to protest outside the county’s Hall of Administration downtown.

Transit Strike Lingers A countywide strike will multiply problems for many low-income people already coping with the 26-day-old strike that has halted Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus and rail lines used by 450,000 regular riders.

The MTA made what it called its final offer to striking bus and rail operators Tuesday night and gave the union until Thursday morning to accept it.

“We believe this devastating strike must come to an end and we believe this can make it happen,” MTA Chief Executive Officer Julian Burke said. He wouldn’t discuss the offer’s details.

United Transportation Union Chairman James Williams declined to comment.

ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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