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Villaraigosa's rollback pension plan up for final vote

October 26, 2012 |  8:58 am

Villaraigosa in Sept 2012
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan for rolling back the retirement benefits of newly hired employees is scheduled to secure its final vote Friday, despite opposition from two dozen labor leaders.

The council is expected to cast its second and final vote on a proposal to hike the retirement age to 65 and cut city's workers' take-home in years when their retirement fund takes a hit in the stock market. Under the plan, spouses of those workers also would no longer be eligible for city-funded healthcare.

The vote comes a week after labor leaders across Southern California, including representatives of teachers, firefighters and employees of the Department of Water and Power, sent a letter asking council members to abandon the plan, saying city workers have already agreed to contribute more for their retirement benefits.

"If anti-worker foes succeed in destroying retirement security here in Los Angeles, then they will succeed in destroying retirement security everywhere," wrote Maria Elena Durazo, head of the County Federation of Labor, one of the signers.

The pension rollback has been pushed by Villaraigosa, a close ally of Durazo, and secured a unanimous first vote from the council last month. But it has been portrayed as being too weak by former Mayor Richard Riordan, who is gathering signatures for his own, far more dramatic pension ballot measure, which would push newly hired workers into 401(k)-style retirement plans.

In the middle are nearly more than a dozen other civic leaders who have urged the council to press ahead. That group includes former City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, a Villaraigosa appointee on the harbor commission, and Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Those civic leaders said the Villaraigosa plan would bring L.A. closer to fiscal stability.

"This is clearly an important step in getting the city's fiscal house in order so that it can provide much required and better services over time," the group said.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last month. Credit: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / GettyImages.

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