Forum/LSP/mike1st/mark2nd

Unions are stepping up their efforts to organize L.A.-area workers. Many are literally taking to the streets in what they see as a fight against local businesses.

Just last week, John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, intensified union efforts at the New Otani Hotel and Garden when he announced he would fly to Japan to meet with owners of the hotel to argue on behalf of workers attempting to organize.

The Business Journal Forum asks:

Do you think that increased efforts by unions to organize workers in the L.A. area will be successful?

Ross Crowe

President

Institute of Real Estate Management/L.A.

"I think the unions have already experienced success in the past four years, particularly with janitorial and service-oriented unions. As the L.A. economy continues to come back, there's going to be greater demand on owners and employers from the workers. The perceived vehicle for the workers reaping the benefits are the unions. The jury is still out on the 'reaping' part."

Gordon Krischer

Labor and Employment Attorney

O'Melveny & Myers

"I don't think they'll be any more successful than in the past, particularly in L.A. where a lot of jobs created in the L.A. area are created by small businesses and are in the service and information areas, and those have been traditionally much more difficult to organize. The unions' greatest successes in the L.A. area have been with public-sector employees, almost all of whom are organized already. The percentage of the workforce (that is unionized) will continue to decline we're just talking about the rate of the decline."

Bill Robertson

Chairman

Century Housing Corp.

"It's a reminder of a period when unions had their greatest growth when membership and leadership were militant and they took to the streets. It is occurring around the country, but it is more evident here because of a large influx of Latino and even Asian workers who recognize that the only way they will make a decent wage is if they have strong unions representing them."

Dave Tobey

Vice President

Equity Healthcare Inc.

"I think there will be an employee awakening that many of the layoffs and downsizing are detrimental to employees and seem to reward senior management and shareholders. I am also disturbed by the difficulty of companies to do business in L.A. Employers can't necessarily pay employees what they're worth because they are so worried about dealing with the bureaucracy and expense of doing business in L.A."

Tod Paris

Vice President and CFO

Morley Builders

"No. Basically the trend in construction at least has been for the unions to become less strong. Unions are attempting to remain a force by lessening their demands. For example, in the state of California, almost all residential building is done by non-union companies, while it used to be that all residential building was done by union companies.

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