Labor union president resigns following leaked recording of racist conversation: Reports

Ron Herrera, President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and one of four people heard on leaked audio recordings during a 2021 meeting in which several high-ranking political leaders participated in mocking colleagues and making racist comments about a councilman’s son, has resigned from his position as the union’s president.

The Los Angeles Times reported his resignation Monday night, saying that it happened during a meeting with the federation’s executive board.

Herrera confirmed that he was one of the four voices heard on the leaked audio, which was shared on social media and was first reported by the Los Angeles Times Sunday.

The closed-door meeting involved Herrera, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, and councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo. The four met to discuss the broader issues facing the council, including the recent once-a-decade redistricting process and the likely ouster of fellow councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was indicted on federal bribery charges.

The audio includes the councilmembers debating who would be a suitable City Council replacement that would be politically beneficial to the causes of the four speakers, should Ridley-Thomas be suspended by the council. Ridley-Thomas was ultimately suspended and replaced by Heather Hutt.

During the meeting, Martinez can be heard making racist statements regarding councilmember Mike Bonin’s adopted Black son, using a Spanish term that translates to “monkey.” She also refers to Bonin as a “little bitch,” and says of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, “he’s with the Blacks.” Councilmember de León also made his own derogatory remarks regarding Bonin and his child.

Herrera’s role in the leaked audio is less explosive, as he appears to attempt at times to keep the meeting on track, but comments made regarding the race of other councilmembers as it pertains to the agendas of the four Hispanic political players involved in the meeting has left many community members and colleagues calling for all involved to resign.

On Monday, Martinez resigned from her position as the council’s president and apologized for her words and actions. She will remain on the council.

De León released a statement Sunday in which he voices his regret for participating and at times condoning the remarks.

Cedillo originally told the Los Angeles Times that he did not remember the conversation, but on Monday released a statement apologizing. Cedillo lost his re-election bid on the council and will be replaced in the coming months by Eunisses Hernandez. Hernandez has called for Martinez to resign from the council and for Cedillo and de León to be removed from their committees.

A representative from the L.A. County Federation of Labor, on behalf of Herrera, originally responded to the Times to condemn the release of the secretly recorded audio, calling its leak illegal. But later in the evening, Herrera released his own statement in which he apologized for his “failure to stand up to racist and anti-black remarks.”

Herrera is the first to resign from his position among the four voices involved in the conversation. A veritable who’s-who of California’s heavy political hitters have either condemned the comments or gone as far as to insist all involved resign from their positions.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said of the comments made by the councilmembers during the meeting, “These comments have no place in our state, or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live the values that so many of us fight every day to protect.”

KTLA has reached out to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor for comment regarding Herrera’s resignation and has yet to hear back.