Let the March Begin

Hundreds of city workers, along with family members and supporters, plan to march to City Hall Tuesday to press their demand that the City Council abandon a plan "to impose massive pay cuts through furloughs."

The workers, members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, say they will begin the march at 9:30 a.m. at Hill Street between First and Temple Streets, outside the Civic Center Metro stop, proceed south to First Street, then east to City Hall.

The marchers will urge the City Council "to abandon a short-sighted plan that would devastate city services and impose massive pay cuts through furloughs," according to a coalition statement.

The coalition comprises six unions representing nearly 22,000 city workers, including trash truck drivers, librarians, 911 operators, traffic control officers and after-school program recreation workers.

The City Council last Wednesday authorized a furlough plan that would shut down most city offices every other Friday in hopes of achieving $100 million in savings. The plan will take effect at the beginning of the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

"We have to balance the budget responsibly on July 1 with real money, not projected money," City Council President Eric Garcetti said last week. "We hope to lessen the number of layoffs and/or furloughs with ongoing discussions with unions, but we don't have an option."

The coalition said the furloughs being contemplated are at odds with the spirit of cooperation necessary to resolve the budget crisis.

"Far from prioritizing city services, these furlough pay cuts would decimate city services across the board, including public safety and revenue-producing positions," said Bob Schoonover, Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic with the city and President of  Service Employees International Union Local 721.

"These are unacceptable choices that dig the hole deeper and next year we would be right back where we are now," he said.

In addition to the planned 26 furlough days, the city's $7 billion budget also calls for 1,600 layoffs to help offset a $529 million budget deficit.

On Monday, City Administrative Officer Ray Ciranna testified before the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee that 1,200 of the positions slated for layoffs were already vacant, and only 76 more needed to be eliminated  because many general managers found vacancies for employees set for layoffs.

"...What we have seen is that departments have gotten very creative in finding ways to move people ... They're now saying that of the original 400, only 76 -- at this point -- need to go out the door," Ciranna said.

He said some employees were transferred to the Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles World Airports and the Port of Los Angeles. Each of these city agencies has a budget separate from the city's.

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