City Moves Closer to Layoffs
There will be blood. That, according to the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, will take the form of a lawsuit to force Los Angeles to honor a pact the coalition says should have gone into effect when the City Council approved it June 26. That agreement postponed city worker cost-of-living raises for two years -- in exchange for a promise of no layoffs and no unpaid furloughs, along with a provision to allow 2,400 eligible employees to retire early. Criticism of the pact, which was only tentatively approved by the council, soon snowballed as city economists warned that its implementation would only worsen L.A.'s budget crisis.
Today, following two days of marathon, closed-doors discussions between the city and its unions, the council voted to set up the machinery needed to lay off 926 employees and establish a schedule of forced-furloughs for all of the city's civilian employees. (It's safe to say the council considers early retirement way off the table.) Unless the council can somehow get the coalition's participating unions to find ways to save more than $60 million, the layoffs and furloughs will begin September 28.
Moments ago Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed a news conference and vowed to take any action to keep the city solvent -- including defying his organized labor base of support. Referring to his own early career as a labor organizer, Villaraigosa said, "I'm a union guy" who regretted having to toss out the city's tentative agreement with its unions.