A contract between Los Angeles County and its largest public employees union expired at midnight Wednesday shortly after the union membership voted to take the first step toward a strike.
Members of Local 660 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 40,000 of the county's 73,000 employees, voted to seek approval for a strike from the county Federation of Labor if negotiations over fringe benefits collapse.
Local 660 general manager Sharon Grimpe said after the vote that negotiations were expected to continue into the early morning. Separate talks on wages have been suspended until an agreement is reached on fringe benefits, she said.
The local represents 23 groups of county workers, including nurses, librarians, district attorneys, public defenders and custodians. Each of the groups is negotiating its own wage contract, while the local is negotiating the fringe benefits package for all of them. Negotiations began in May.