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911 operators stage sickout to protest furloughs and pay cuts, causing LAPD personnel to cover shifts

Nearly three dozen emergency 911 operators staged a wildcat sickout Thursday at two Los Angeles call centers, prompting the LAPD to have administrators and other personnel work their shifts.

The sickout to protest furloughs and pay cuts was confined to operators who field emergency calls for the LAPD, officials said. The fire department has its own operators.

LAPD Asst. Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur said that department officials became aware of a possible work action late Wednesday and prepared plans to cover shifts. She said the sickout's effect was minimal, even though nearly a third of the operators were out on the day shift.

"Our administrative and training staff were able to cover those who had called in sick," MacArthur said. "We were up to full speed by p.m. watch."

On a typical weeknight, there are 45 operators working at the Metropolitan call center downtown and 40 at the West Hills station, officials said.

MacArthur said that although the department is sympathetic to the issues facing civilian employees, the primary responsibility of the LAPD is public safety.

"We have contingency plans in place to ensure the citizens of Los Angeles are safe," said MacArthur, who acknowledged that "there could be an impact on the speed in handling non-emergency calls" if the sickouts were to continue.

Police union President Paul M. Weber said he received two messages about the action via Twitter from the address "LA City Workers." The first read: "Mr. Weber, I would like to discuss our planned job action with you so that you may inform the department to ensure public safety."

A second read: "I anticipate a tac alert due to personnel shortages so your membership may get a few hours of overtime :)."

Weber said he forwarded both messages to the department to ensure it would be prepared to deal with the fallout from a possible work action. The sickout affected about half of the personnel at the two 911 centers during day watch, which is approximately from 6 a.m. to late afternoon.


The work action forced the police department to have some administrators and others to fill the shifts. 

Weber said he was concerned that the sickouts could continue and spread to the jails. "We are worried that this is going spread beyond the 911 operators," Weber said.

"This is really a reaction to the City Council implementing furloughs and layoffs," he said. "We are concerned that the department is going to have to take officers out of the field to backfill these critical functions."

In April, Weber warned that cuts to civilian jobs would negatively affect patrol officers on the streets.

"For every 100 officers who are pulled from the field work to backfill vacant civilian positions, it is the equivalent of removing about 30 police cars citywide," he said.

-- Andrew Blankstein  

Comments () | Archives (78)

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If a single call was missed, charge them all with obstructing justice.

Someone needs to pull a Ronald Reagan and fire these jokers. There are plenty of people who would be glad to take those jobs.

Fire every one of those people. Hey civil servants welcome to our private sector world. At least we create to earn more, all you people do is tax the crap out of us to earn more.

If they can handle the job even with this sickout then maybe they should replace those 911 operators with all those officers working desk jobs?

How much can they save by laying off 36 911 operators?

Try and reduce the overblown salaries and benefits to our "dedicated" union employees, and those not idling at strip clubs will call in sick.

Our city and county management need to grow a pair next time collective barganing agreements are negotiated. No more retirements before age 65 for employees think they work in Greece. No more pensions that aren't contributed to by the employees.

Fire them all. Many people would love to have their jobs.

There are so many employed people out there. Please hire them and train them. It is not a prudent thing to walk out of their jobs especially when you job is protect public safety. I understand the anger 100%. But they can't put public safety up in the air out of selfishness and personal animosity.

I guess being grateful for having a job in this economy is just not enough, especially if you're a union employee. Shame on them!!!!

Oh, call the WAAAmbulance!

Deal with people - eveyone is!!!

I'm just grateful to HAVE a job!
They should be too!

I have NO sympathy for people cryin' the blues over union fee hikes, or heath care increases, or pay cuts - blah, blah, blah. What's the alternative morons? As if unemployment is a better lifestyle??? Please.

Fire them all. I'm sure it won't be hard to find people to fill the spots after some training.

You mean at the city you can call in sick when you are not really sick?

Isn't that lying?

The degree to which the civil servant workforce is out of touch with reality needs no more illustration than this. These are not janitors or clerical workers--these are public safety employees, and now they are walking off the job in order to, basically, "protest" a bad economy, which is the reason for the furloughs. A furlough is certainly better than a layoff or termination, which is what many in the private sector, who work just as long and just as hard as they, are now facing.

Government workers, whose preoccupation of late seems to be doing everything they can to try to make others feel sorry for them, can strike or "stage" "walk-outs" if it gives them a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, but, if they keep it up, they can also lose their jobs and be replaced, and then join the ranks of the unemployed here in the private sector.

Read this article after learning that Los Angeles doesn't collect nearly 50% of it's debt. That there are hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid fines, fees, and services that LA just didn't bother to collect. That furloughs and layoffs could have been avoided. It's embarassing really

Villaraza should be fired. this sucks. We should lay him off. How much money would that save???

Fire 'em.

These useless union thugs should be fired and prosecuted.

They have a job, one related to people in distress. If they leave there job for a "Sickout" then fire them all and replace them with people who need a job. I would rather take a pay cut then loose my job. California is filled with the most greedy people I have ever meet.

"She said the sickout's effect was minimal, even though nearly a third of the operators were out on the day shift." So, fire them. Hire private contractors, save some money, improve service and get rid of a buch of overpaid whiners. 9-1-1 dispatchers (RTO's) are esential, but hardly a challenge to find and train.

They are so lucky to have a job, please please realize that you are just rubbing your good fortune in the faces of the unemployed by being so greedy to strike over a few furloughs and guaranteed pay later.

where is the line for interviews?

How about you fire all the disgruntled employees? Hire someone who wants to work and doesn't have a bone to pick?


You can't just hire someone off the street and make them a 911 operator. That's like making just anyone a police officer. The hiring process takes months and includes several more months of training.

The problem is with money management. The city needs to cut it's spending on welfare programs and the like, and put what resources they have into the basic necessities of civil service- police, fire, sanitation, etc. It probably wouldn't hurt if the Mayor and the city council gave themselves a little pay cut as well, but you'll never see THAT happen.

Doesn't it not say on their MOUs (Memo of Understanding) that workers will not strike in exchange for management never locking them out? Terminate them all. They can all join the unemployed.

So lying about being sick is not a firing offense?

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