Engineers And Architects Could See Another Vote On Contract With L.A. City Hall After It Rejects Deal That Would Raise Health-Care Costs

The board of governors of the city Engineers and Architects Association planned to meet Monday night to discuss its members' rejection of a tentative deal with the City of Los Angeles that would have its workers pay five percent of the cost of their monthly health-care premiums. The deal, negotiated between the city and association leaders but rejected by three out of four of the union's bargaining units, could be put back on the table for another vote, said the association's interim executive director, Michael Davies.

"The choice was between paying five percent and having a 10 percent cost imposed on them," Davies told the Weekly.

The outcome is important because the contract is part of the city's current budget, cobbled together with union compromises and healthy revenue projections in mind. If it falls apart, it could hit the city with another budget crisis like the one seen in spring when the council worked to erase a nearly $500 million deficit due last month.

Davies argues that if the Engineers and Architects' members don't go for the five-percent deal, members would likely see higher health-care costs. He did not predict layoffs, even as some city officials warned that if union concessions didn't come through more workers would have to be cut.

"If there is no agreement, and the city should seek to declare an impasse, since they are already armed with a declaration of economic emergency, the city could proceed swiftly to impose unilateral terms and conditions of employment on our members that could easily include a 10 percent employee contribution to health care and other 'take-aways,'" he said.

Davies blamed an outside union, what the Los Angeles Times identified as the Service Employees International Union Local 721, for lobbying the engineers and architects' membership to vote the deal down in a move to preserve its own interests.

Davies called it "a massive camp of misinformation conducted by a hostile union."

The Engineers and Architects have been without a contract since June 30.

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