While Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has earned a somewhat undeserved reputation as a man bent on reforming the city's powerful unions (which constitute the base of his political power), former Mayor Richard Riordan is actually walking the walk, at least according to the Daily News' Rick Orlov.
Putting pressure on labor for Villaraigosa means talking tough but backing it up with minimal force (calling for thousands of layoffs and union concessions, but so far unwilling to do much more than talk about it). Riordan, however, wants unions to repent after years of hiring bonanzas, benefit expansions and pampering pensions that have put the city's budget in peril.
“What I'm trying to do is get them to look at the problem and talk more about it,” Riordan told Orlov. “What I want is to try to get them to begin looking at the city's problems realistically.”
The ex-mayor has been talking to city union leaders about raising the retirement age, contributing more to health care, and giving up a little on pensions.
Riordan famously chastised the current mayor for his handling of the city's $485 million deficit, announcing in the Wall Street Journal on Cinco De Mayo that he believes the city would go bankrupt between now and 2014 if radical changes to pensions and other union perks don't happen.
Villaraigosa has been kept out of the loop when it comes to Riordan's latest efforts to change the city's unions.