Council to Consider Agreement With City Workers

The City Council will go into closed session Friday morning, to consider an agreement with its employees' unions aimed at averting layoffs and furloughs.

It took months of sometimes tense bargaining to reach this tentative agreement with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which calls for deferring workers' salary increases for two years, according to Librarians Guild President Roy Stone.

The tentative agreement calls for workers to not receive raises in 2009 and 2010. However, the city would make up for it by increasing their salaries every six months for three years, according to another union official who requested anonymity.

Workers would receive a 2.25 percent increase every July from 2011 through 2013 and a 2.75 percent increase every January from 2012 through 2014, the official said.

Workers would also receive cash bonuses equivalent to 1.75 percent of their salaries in November 2011, November 2012, and July 2013.

"This would save the city hundreds of millions of dollars over the next three years," the official said.

City Council President Eric Garcetti said he was "hopeful that this plan will help close next year's deficit and put us on solid financial footing during these tough economic times."

City Councilmember Ed Reyes said, "I look forward to today's meeting to address these important matters affecting our city workers." Reyes also said, "I support a plan that allows employees to leave with dignity, via early retirement, without sacrificing the long-term health of our city."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could not be reached for comment.

If the deal is approved, union leaders will begin an information campaign to tell members about the terms of the renegotiated contract, and then hold a ratification vote.

"We're taking no money to try to keep the city afloat for the next two years, with the hope that the city will be working its way out of the crisis after that," Stone said.

"If you look at the whole package, it's very spare, it's not outrageous. There are not huge amounts of money in it. We just want to keep up with inflation. It's all very fair and reasonable."

The deal also includes provisions for early retirement.

The unions agreed to have their members pay an extra 0.75 percent of their wages into the city retirement fund, so that as many as 2,400 workers can retire early without the city having to pay for their early retirement benefits, the official said.

City officials had planned to make layoffs and place employees on furloughs to narrow its budget deficit by about $360 million. The first wave of layoffs is scheduled next week.

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