L.A. Union Official Threatens To Sue City If It Follows Through With Furloughs

An official with the Coalition of Los Angeles City Unions threatened to sue if the City Council followed through with a plan to furlough workers for 26 days out of the next fiscal work year in an effort to balance the L.A. budget. Victor Gordo, counsel for the coalition, said that such furloughs would be a violation of the group's contract with the city. "The agreement that we have with the city prohibits the unilateral implementation of furloughs,'' he said. "Should the city proceed with it, we will defend the agreement and ask the court to give effect to the absolute prohibition on the unilateral implementation of furloughs.''

In a complicated mess created by the council's effort to pare down a $485 million gap between income and spending for the next fiscal year, the city plans to issue 246 pink slips to union members when the year begins July 1. That, however, would trigger raises for union members under a clause in the contract between the coalition and City Hall. To offset those raises, the city wants to implement the furloughs.

The layoffs would only be the beginning: 761 job cuts were built into the fiscal-year budget, and another 1,000 could come if income projections aren't meant and the unions don't offer concessions.

Which is just what city leaders are asking for in order to avoid that first round of layoffs.

"I think there are small things that are perfectly reasonable, where we all as city employees would pay more for our health care or visits to the doctor and things like that, which could prevent layoffs,'' said Council President Eric Garcetti.

The unions so far don't seem to be budging. They've argued that they have already allowed for concessions and that the city could do more to find members' jobs in robust departments such as airports and Water and Power.

"We said to the City Council that L.A.'s workers are saying no to wage increases and yes to protecting city services,'' Gordo said.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us.


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