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Labor groups cite 'war on women' at L.A. City Hall in job cuts

May 14, 2012 | 10:40 am

Antonio Villaraigosa and Miguel Santana

Critics say L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is waging a war against women because his proposed layoffs hit jobs traditionally held by female workers.

In his proposed budget now under review by the City Council, Villaraigosa calls for eliminating 231 filled positions. Individual employees who would lose jobs have not been identified, but roughly 90% of the positions targeted are clerk, secretarial and other jobs mostly held by women.

If approved, the job cuts would follow a pattern set two years ago, when women made up less than a third of the city's total workforce but constituted 54% of the layoffs called for by Villaraigosa, according to records. Dozens of child-care workers and library employees were among those let go.

Union members have raised the issue at news conferences and council budget hearings, where one city worker this month drew cheers from the audience when she told lawmakers: "This is an attack on women!"

Her comments echo recent accusations by Democrats of a Republican "war on women" over congressional efforts to roll back abortion and contraceptive rights.

The local attacks, however, are being directed at Villaraigosa, who, as chairman of this summer's Democratic National Convention, has been tasked with leading the Democratic Party platform.

Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders said gender "was not a factor considered" when decisions about job eliminations were being made. And City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said hundreds of vacant positions proposed for elimination include jobs more typically held by men.

He also said the number of people facing layoffs will probably shrink as workers are shifted from threatened positions into vacancies.

Torie Osborn, a former advisor to the mayor, says the fact women may be more affected by the elimination of lower-level civil service jobs simply "reflects what is."

Local union leaders say layoffs are hurting the most vulnerable city workers. Alice Goff, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3090, which represents clerical employees, said her members, who are predominantly minority and female, have been hit disproportionately hard by the cuts.


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-- Kate Linthicum at L.A. City Hall

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, is shown with City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times