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Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Matt Pearce, Anousha Sakoui and Margot Roosevelt

Head of LA Labor Federation resigns amid furor over leaked City Council recording, sources say

LOS ANGELES — Facing outrage over a controversial leaked audio recording with top L.A. city officials, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera offered his resignation at a Monday night meeting with the federation’s executive board, which accepted, according to two sources close to the situation.

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the California Labor Federation and former head of the AFL-CIO’s San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, confirmed to The Times that Herrera offered his resignation to the board. “We are focused on rebuilding solidarity and trust in the worker movement,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the county federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sources requested anonymity to describe sensitive internal matters. One source said that the organization would make a formal statement Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, reports circulated that Herrera had reportedly been “placed on administrative leave, pending an LA Federation of Labor Executive Board meeting to be held this evening,” the California Labor Federation said in a Monday email to state labor leaders obtained by The Times.

Herrera — along with Los Angeles City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo — participated in an October 2021 closed-door conversation where Martinez said a white councilmember handled his young Black son as though he were an “accessory” and described Councilmember Mike Bonin’s son as “Parece changuito,” or “like a monkey.”

Other racist and derogatory remarks were made during the conversation, which largely focused on the city’s once-every-decade redistricting process and preserving and maintaining Latino political power.

The conversation remained private for roughly a year before exploding into public view Sunday after being reported on by The Times. The leaked audio was originally posted on Reddit.

The county federation’s move comes in the wake of growing calls for Herrera’s resignation from his top labor post, as well as demands that Martinez, De León and Cedillo step down from the City Council. Martinez, who had been City Council president, announced that she was resigning her leadership post Monday morning, but she remains on the council.

The leaders of eight SEIU California unions with Los Angeles-area members issued a statement Monday morning calling on Martinez, De León and Cedillo to step down from their council seats and Herrera to step down from his post. Shortly before Monday night’s meeting, Herrera’s home local, Teamsters Local 396, had joined the snowballing calls in the labor movement for Herrera to quit his federation post.

The email from the state federation’s leader, Gonzalez Fletcher, stressed that the county federation was distinct from and separate from the state-level federation.

“We do not have authority over Central Labor Councils — they are independently chartered with the AFL-CIO,” Gonzalez Fletcher said in the message. “We have been in contact with the AFL-CIO and the Los Angeles Federation of Labor about this egregious matter.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler put out a statement Sunday saying that “we will gather all the facts, but the hateful speech reported in that meeting is inexcusable.”

“Until we have accountability, we cannot begin the healing process,” Gonzalez Fletcher wrote. “We have much work ahead of us to ensure the labor movement is a place where ALL workers can all come together in solidarity in our shared struggle.”

The Labor Federation described the leaked audio as part of a “serious security and privacy breach” at L.A. County Federation of Labor offices involving “illegal” recordings of “many private and confidential conversations in private offices and conference rooms,” in a Sunday email to affiliates, according to text provided to The Times.


Times staff writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.

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