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Southeast : PROTESTS HALT

April 17, 1996

Weekly protests at the Employment Development Department office in Compton have stopped now that Sacramento has assured local leaders--in writing--that it will not close the office. At least, not soon.

Rallied by Lynwood's mayor and City Council members, protesters ranging from high school students to NAACP representatives defended the center week after week against feared cutbacks resulting from a reduction in the statewide system.

The worry was that as EDD switched to telephone claim filing for unemployment insurance and shut some offices to walk-in service, the communities suffering the highest unemployment rate in Southern California would be left without any direct personal help. The North Bullis Road office provides job referral services to about 300,000 residents of Lynwood, Compton and Paramount.

Despite statements by state officials that there was no strategic plan, the concerns of community leaders would not be salved.

The weekly protests continued until the end of March, when the EDD's chief deputy director sent Lynwood Mayor Paul Richards a four-page letter. Among the responses to six specific requests was a guarantee to extend the lease on the Compton field office, currently being renegotiated, for a "minimum of two years."

Said EDD spokeswoman Suzanne Schroeder, "But we are working more and more toward telephone claim filing and changing our services, depending upon what our needs are as leases become available."

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