Compton employee unions file labor complaint over layoffs
Unions representing the Compton city employees who lost their jobs after a chaotic budget vote last month have filed a claim with a state agency overseeing labor relations, saying the layoffs were carried out illegally and asking to have them overturned.
The Coalition of Compton Unions filed an unfair labor practices charge with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board on Wednesday, a little more than a week after the layoffs of about 90 employees took effect.
The city’s accumulated general fund deficit was as high as $25 million in the spring, and city officials said the layoffs were necessary to rein in spending and pass a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year.
But the unions claim that the city violated the law by failing to bargain with the unions over the way the layoffs would be implemented, withholding information the employees had requested and adopting a budget that included concessions the unions had proposed as a means to avert the layoffs but had not agreed to.
The claim also alleges that specific employees were targeted for layoff based on their union activities.
“The City Council has managed to make a difficult situation worse,” said Glenn Rothner, an attorney representing the union coalition.
The unions’ claims will go before an administrative law judge, who could order the city to rescind the layoffs and begin a new negotiating process.
The coalition has threatened to bring a separate civil suit in Superior Court over alleged violations of California’s open meetings law, because of last-minute budget amendments that City Manager Willie Norfleet submitted to the council the night of the budget vote without giving the public -- and at least one of the council members -- an opportunity to see the changes beforehand.
Norfleet and City Atty. Craig Cornwell did not respond to a request for comment.
-- Abby Sewell
Photo: Compton residents packed the City Hall council chambers for a meeting last month on the budget. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times