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L.A. officials detail first group of layoffs

March 17, 2010 |  2:10 pm

Calligraphers, art instructors, background investigators and video technicians at the city’s public access television channel were among the first 39 Los Angeles city employees to receive their pink slips in a layoff process that began last week.

Los Angeles leaders have authorized the elimination of as many as 4,000 jobs to help bridge the city’s budget gap, which is $212 million this fiscal year and as much as $485 million next year because of the drop in tax revenue. Personnel analysts are working through the list of the first 459 positions identified by the city's general managers, but many of those employees cannot be dismissed until July 1 because of an agreement with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions.

Maggie Whelan, general manager of the personnel department, told Council members Wednesday that her department could process layoff paperwork for as many 800 employees by June 30. But because of the labor agreement, the city’s top financial analyst, Miguel Santana, said the city would only save about $7 million from layoffs this fiscal year. Next year's savings from the elimination of 4,000 positions is estimated to be about $300 million.

Council members Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl questioned the logic of terminating as many as nine staff members at Channel 35, which carries live City Council meetings three days a week along with other city programming. Rosendahl said he feared that the layoffs would cut off the flow of information to constituents, while Koretz said he did not think members of the Council were aware that public access television services would be “devastated to this degree.”

“There may be some of those positions that we might want to keep on board,” Koretz said. Santana told him the employees had already been notified.  

Many city leaders are hoping to avoid the bulk of the layoffs by convincing the city’s employee unions to concede to a pay cut of as much as 10% for next fiscal year. During Wednesday's budget hearing, Santana said union leaders haven’t given any indication that they are interested in accepting pay reductions.

-- Maeve Reston at Los Angeles City Hall


L.A. City Hall fears ripple effect of layoffs