Paying five percent of your health-care premium when you used to pay zero doesn't sound like such a good deal. But if you're represented by the city's engineers and architects union, it might be the best deal you're going to get, especially at a time when Los Angeles City Hall is trying to hold together its current budget without more layoffs.

The union, the 4,800-member Engineers and Architects Association, voted down the five-percent health-care hike after alleged lobbying by an outside labor group: But the EAA's chief said this week that there will be another vote, and he's wholeheartedly encouraging his members to take the five-percent deal.

“The consequence of voting `no' isn't that we go back to the bargaining table and that there's room to maneuver and try to get something better,'' said the EAA's interim executive directory, Michael Davies. “The city's position will be: `We gave you the best offer you're going to get; you voted it down; we are going to proceed to seek impasse and then impose terms and conditions.”

He says the city's previous declaration of an economic emergency means that it can unilaterally impose a contract on the union, one that could have a 10 percent health-care premium or worse.

This mine seem like inside ball, but it's the kind of drama that will play out repeatedly as the city attempts to maintain its budget in some of the toughest times City Hall has seen in decades. The mayor and the City Council have pleaded with unions to make concessions so the city could stay afloat. If the EAA approves this deal, it will be one small victory for L.A.'s fragile spreadsheet.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

LA Weekly