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Greuel gets top internal ranking from key City Hall union

January 30, 2013 |  8:30 am
Wendy Greuel

The powerful Service Employees International Union quizzed mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti at a town hall-style meeting Tuesday, but did not reach a consensus on whom to recommend for the group's much-coveted endorsement.

But Greuel managed to edge out Garcetti, her main rival in the March 5 election to succeed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, by one key measure Tuesday night: a scoring sheet prepared by the political directors of six SEIU locals on issues important to the union.

The evaluation, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, was prepared last month and ranked Greuel 4.3 out of 5 on issues important to the union, with 5 signifying a "strongly pro-worker" candidate. By comparison, Garcetti received a 3.5 and was graded lower than Greuel on such issues as retirement benefits and furloughs, the unpaid days off taken by civilian city workers.

Garcetti was president of the City Council three years ago, in the middle of a major budget crisis, when votes were taken to impose layoffs, furloughs and service cuts. More recently, he voted with other council members to roll back pension benefits and hike the retirement age for newly hired civilian city workers.

That could help explain why Garcetti was given a 2, a number signifying "anti-worker" policies, on the issue of collective bargaining, a 2.5 on furloughs and a 3 on retirement benefits.

By comparison, the evaluation sheet gave Greuel between 4 and 4.5 in seven out of eight categories, including furloughs, privatization of city services and "working with unions." Greuel was not on the council when difficult votes were cast on layoffs and reductions in retirement benefits.

Garcetti issued a statement late Tuesday saying "rank-and-file workers made it clear with their votes that SEIU is not ready" to back a candidate. But officials with SEIU Local 721, which represents 10,000 city employees, said an endorsement decision could still be made by union leaders in coming weeks.

The union's backing is considered important because it can mean a significant number of get-out-the-vote campaign volunteers and spending on mailers and advertising.

The scoring sheet also dinged Councilman Dennis Zine, a candidate for city controller, who was part of the council's leadership when layoff and furlough votes took place. Like Garcetti, Zine received a 3.5 ranking from the SEIU and received his worst rankings on furloughs and retirement benefits.

Zine's opponent in the controller's race, city commissioner Ron Galperin, drew a much higher score of 4.5, according to the SEIU document.

At the end of the evening, the SEIU locals announced that they had recommended Galperin for the union's endorsement. A ratification vote on Galperin is expected in the coming weeks.


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Photo: L.A. mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel at a Jan. 4 news conference. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times