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Groups to Offer Aid to Hotel, Airport Workers

November 20, 2001|NANCY CLEELAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Labor and community groups will funnel $3 million in aid to displaced hotel and airport workers in Los Angeles, with most of the money earmarked for maintaining health insurance coverage and avoiding evictions and foreclosures.

The project, which is being funded by Kaiser Permanente, the nonprofit California Endowment and a joint labor-management health and welfare fund, will be announced today by labor unions, which are still working out the details, organizers said Monday.

About 34,000 hotel, restaurant and airport concession workers have been laid off or had their hours severely reduced since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks set off a prolonged travel slump. Many are immigrants who already were stretched financially.

Unions and community groups have been providing groceries to thousands of displaced workers at three Los Angeles relief centers since early October.

"The need is so great, it's been frustrating that we haven't had very much to offer," said Madeline Janis-Aparicio, director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. "With so much need, even $3 million doesn't go very far."

Kaiser Permanente is contributing $1 million, most of which will pay employers to maintain Kaiser coverage for at least three months for employees who no longer qualify for insurance, Janis-Aparicio said. Another $1 million will pay for continued insurance coverage for union members, she said.

The California Endowment's $1 million will cover emergency housing and medical expenses and eight outreach workers to track down displaced workers.

The County Federation of Labor is coordinating another union drive that will raise money for food for laid off workers. For more information, call the Worker Resource Center at (310) 260-9149 or the County Federation of Labor at (213) 381-5611.

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