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Staff the Front Lines bus tour kicks off Western swing with stop in Los Angeles

Photo: Andrew Dudenbostel
Staff the Front Lines bus tour kicks off Western swing with stop in Los Angeles
By Natalia Pérez Santos ·

LOS ANGELES – AFSCME’s Staff the Front Lines bus is out West this week.

On Saturday, the bus tour kicked off the Western swing with a stop in Los Angeles, where AFSCME District Council 36 members joined California Assemblymember Miguel Santiago and City Councilmember Tim McOsker to underscore the urgent need to fill open public service positions throughout the city.

The press conference was held during a workforce development event at the Los Angeles County Labor Federation, where attendees had the opportunity to meet with representatives from city agencies and learn more about the jobs that are available, the benefits that come with them and how to apply. At an earlier listening session, AFSCME members discussed strategies with Los Angeles elected officials on how to improve recruitment and retain dedicated, qualified public service workers.

From nurses to sanitation workers to corrections officers, chronic short staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that all Californians rely on. That’s why AFSCME launched the Staff the Front Lines initiative this year: to partner with elected officials on recruiting and retaining the essential workers who keep our communities running. The Staff the Front Lines bus will stop in more than 20 cities across the country this summer.

“We need you in the public service. You can make a difference and get paid for doing it – in libraries, in parks, in transportation, in public safety and in cultural institutions. There is a job here in LA that fits your passion and your skills,” DC36 President Lisa Palombi said.

AFSCME Local 3090 President and 911 Dispatcher Larry Gates underscored the need for adequate staffing in public service professions.

“I am a 911 dispatcher, a role I’ve been proud to hold for almost 20 years. When we get a call, the person on the other line could be your cousin, your aunt, your mother, your son or your daughter. The last thing you want is for that call to go on hold because no one is there to answer. So, I am asking you to be someone who answers the call,” he said.

AFSCME member and Parks and Recreation employee Miguel Nitshal said what he does is more than a job, it’s a calling – and one that will also help him retire with dignity.

“A lot of the work we do may go unseen, but it’s all worth it when you see kids getting to explore their creative sides or families enjoying city parks. This job has provided me with stability, so that I could raise my family,” he said. “And in the coming years, I know I’ll be able to retire with dignity because of the benefits I’ve earned while working for the city.”

If city jobs continue to be unfilled, the quality of public services Los Angelenos receive and expect will go down, Assemblymember Santiago warned.

“If our residents want a better running city, if they want the streets to be clean, if they want their libraries open, they’re only going to get it done if our workforce is compensated, has good benefits and we are doing the business we need to take care of,” Santiago said.

Councilmember McOsker stressed that public service professionals are important to preserving and improving the quality of life of those who call the nation’s second-largest city home.

“I can’t talk to folks about sidewalks, streets, curbs, gutters, tree-trimming, library services, the museums, the constituent care, if I don’t have the people to serve the city,” McOsker said. “In my district, there are people whose lives would change to have a job with the City of Los Angeles with good benefits and good pay. I know this because it was my family’s history. It changed the trajectory of our lives.”

The Staff the Front Lines bus heads to San Diego later this week.

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