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Union workers plan protest at Villaraigosa's pre-Oscars bash

March 4, 2010 |  2:34 pm
Upset about a proposal to lay off thousands of Los Angeles city workers, labor unions plan to hold a “mock red carpet" protest outside Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s official residence Thursday night as he hosts a pre-Oscars party for nominees.

The Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents approximately 20,000 workers, plans to protest outside the mayor’s Windsor Square residence -- or close by, if the street is cordoned off by police.

“While the Mayor hailed the entertainment industry as the 'lifeblood' of Los Angeles in a press release about the Thursday event, city workers maintain every facet of the city, including streets, trees, beaches, historic landmarks and parks, that make the city the world’s prime filming destination," coalition member Service Employees International Union Local 721 said in a statement.

The mayor is teaming up with the Hollywood Reporter to put on the inaugural Nominees’ Night.
The publication describes the event as a “cocktail reception” designed to be the opening celebration of the 2010 Academy Awards weekend and to honor this year’s nominees.

The mayor’s spokeswoman, Sarah Hamilton, said Wednesday that the city is “not paying a penny" to host the party, which is being sponsored by Microsoft Bing and L’Oreal Paris. (Some union members question that, saying city police and other workers will likely be called on to control traffic and provide security.)

The event is being held, in part, to draw attention to the economic benefits of the entertainment industry in the city and L.A.’s effort to stem so-called runaway production to other locales, Hamilton said. According to the mayor’s office, the entertainment industry employs more than 200,000 people locally and generates approximately $25 billion a year in the region.

L.A. is grappling with a $212-million budget deficit, which is expected to more than double next year. Villaraigosa has called on all city employees to accept pay cuts, saying that would be the best way to alleviate the need to lay off thousands of city workers to close the budget gap.

The City Council already has authorized the elimination of 4,000 city jobs. That’s on top of 2,400 workers who will be leaving the city payroll under an early retirement program approved last year.

-- Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall