June 18, 2020

By Bertram Keller

Contributing Writer


June 11, 2020—A panel of speakers from multifarious organizations presented strategies concerning budget cuts within public sectors in Los Angeles. The conference was arranged by the Center for the Advancement of Racial Equity (CARE), in association with the Los Angeles Black Worker Center and UCLA Labor Center.

The purpose of public sector(s) is to provide different services that benefits a community of people. That includes education, transportation, infrastructure, healthcare, social services, cleaning and maintenance. Evidence shows that African Americans are directly affected by the employment of public sectors in LA. As in, 1 in 5 African Americans will generally work for a public sector, in which more than 62% of public sector workers are Black women.


Project Director of the UCLA Labor Center, Lola Smallwood-Cuevas said “This is the moment for leadership from all levels of government. To drive policies that change conditions, and invest in expanding job creations for public sectors and services. Given the disproportionate impacts of Covid-19 over the current strategies that are currently prevailing to cut, freeze and furlough public sector workers who are largely Black women and women of color.”

In the time of a global pandemic, the uprising against law enforcement, and the downturn in the U.S. economy; Reimage Recovery, gathered via webinar to offer new solutions that will better protect public sector workers/women of color during this unprecedented time.

Accordingly, Deja Thomas, a Researcher from the UCLA Labor Center, “We want to move beyond just reacting to Covid-19, and really dig into the systemic issues that led to the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has on Black workers and [minority] communities… Ensuring equity mandates in economic recovery.” Thomas offered “a solution among many,” in which “reports highlight… an equitable expansion of public sector services while targeting Black workers for jobs.”

A recent CDC MMWR report (June 4, 2020) did a study on race and ethnicity on 580 patients who were hospitalized with coronavirus. The report reveals that 33% of hospitalized patients were Black, compared to being 18% of the community. Results read a disproportion among African American patients who are more likely to fall severely ill of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 threat within the Black community is an unfortunate consequence of poor economic and social conditions. However, at this moment, Los Angeles County has the opportunity to expand services for Black communities that are looking for support from U.S. government officials.

David Neil, represented the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. He said, “I’m a half-time worker on the front line… We need full-time employment so we can eat too.” Neil mentioned “I’ve worked at the Gilbert Lindsey Recreation [in South Central] for over 20 years… this job saved my life, it gave me a chance to do what I do best, coach kids in sports.”

Local union leader, Carmen Hayes-Walker, President of AFSCME 3090 and Vice President of District Council Local 36, urged political leaders to resist job cuts. “Black and Latina women of color; many of these women in my union are the head of [their] households and their communities depend on them. Cutting [jobs] will do more harm than good.” Hayes-Walker, also mentioned that “right after calling these workers heroes, in his next speech, the Mayor proposed furloughs.”

Recorded organizations in support of resisting job cuts and creating new policies are the AFSCME 741, AFSCME Local 3090, District Council 36, the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, and Service Employees International Union, Local 721. As for, the additional conference speakers who provided concrete information: Janel Bailey, Co-Executive Director of Organizing & Programs of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center; Saba Waheed, a Report Research Director for the UCLA Labor Center; Gilda Valdez, Chief of Staff for SEIU 721; Youbet Bienvenue, of SEIU 721.

With our thoughts toward the future of Black lives, and the many public sector workers without steady income. Reimage Recovery Plan requests that U.S. government officials do not make any additional job cuts to public sector services. Instead, provide a proposal for equitable expansion of public sectors, which will begin to create a new affordable cost of living. Public sector workers understand the demands of servicing people all across LA County; however, will workers receive equal service from our political leaders?

Category: Health