Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

L.A. City Council agrees to job cuts if unions won't accept concessions

May 17, 2010 |  8:23 pm

A divided Los Angeles City Council voted Monday to move ahead with plans to eliminate 761 positions while continuing to seek concessions from the unions that represent city employees.

On an 11-4 vote, the council pressed forward with an array of cuts, eliminating dozens of child-care workers, shortening library hours and drastically reducing the number of trees that will be trimmed.

The cuts, which also include up to 26 furlough days for each worker, are slated to go into effect July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

“Hopefully, we have stopped wasting people’s time,” said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who pushed for the cuts. “We have demonstrated that we are serious.”

Council members Richard Alarcon, Jose Huizar, Janice Hahn and Herb Wesson voted against the cuts.

The council rejected a last-minute request from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to delay a vote while the city’s budget team continues negotiating with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents about 22,000 city workers. Perry countered that the negotiations will go forward either way.

Opponents of the cuts also tried to circumvent the plan for eliminating city jobs by adjourning the meeting. That effort failed on a 9-6 vote. Alarcon, Huizar, Hahn, Wesson and council members Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian voted in favor of adjournment.

The city’s employee unions had thrown their support behind a plan by Wesson to balance the budget in a way that involves no layoffs or furloughs. But that plan also failed on a 9-6 vote.

Wesson said he believed that his efforts had caused various officials, including Villaraigosa, to make it clear that they want to avoid layoffs and furloughs if a deal can be struck.

“I think we’ve pushed the ball forward, so the day has not been a total loss,” he said.

The council rejected a proposal for closing an animal shelter in the San Fernando Valley and it preserved $1.3 million in funding that was scheduled to be cut from Villaraigosa’s anti-gang program.
Both initiatives will get additional money from a plan by Councilman Tony Cardenas to increase the cost of parking tickets by $5. Parking tickets currently range from $45 to $80, depending on the violation.

The council also voted 15 to 0 to begin work on a billboard tax for the November ballot.

-- David Zahniser and Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall