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Democratic Convention Dispute Ends

July 12, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The last remaining group of workers without a union contract at the site for next months’ Democratic National Convention has resolved a labor dispute, calming fears that Staples Center employees could disrupt the Democrats’ big party.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501 has accepted the latest contract offer from Sempra Energy, union president Don Mear said Tuesday. The engineers are responsible for making sure the center’s heating, cooling and electrical systems work.

The contract is key to securing an agreement ensuring that the arena’s workers don’t strike during the Aug. 14-17 convention. Labor and Democratic officials have been hammering out such a ``peace agreement″ but have been unable to finalize it without the operating engineers.

The Democratic Party now hopes to reach such a deal by the end of July, a spokesman for the Democratic National Convention Committee said.

Various labor unions and numerous activist groups have announced plans to strike in downtown Los Angeles during the gathering, and the involvement of Staples Center workers would have been an embarrassment for Democrats, who consider themselves a friend of labor and who will need functioning cooling and electrical systems to run the convention.

The operating engineers resolved their dispute after the Staples Center agreed to employ the union’s chief engineer under a separate contract with higher pay but otherwise identical protections to the ones offered to the other engineers, Mear said.

Specifics of the deal were not released.

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