Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA city unions insist scheduled pay raises should be honored

The Coalition of LA City Unions presented its financial proposals to the Budget and Finance Committee Monday.
The Coalition of LA City Unions presented its financial proposals to the Budget and Finance Committee Monday. Alice Walton/KPCC

Members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions presented their financial proposals Monday to the Los Angeles City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, maintaining that the city should retain the 5.5 percent pay raises that are scheduled to take effect in January.

The committee is in its second week of budget deliberations on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's $7.7 billion budget. Citing the city's precarious financial situation, the mayor proposed withholding the raises. He also wants city workers to pay 10 percent toward their health care. 

The coalition represents 22,000 public sector employees, from librarians to 911 operators to maintenance staff.

In an opening statement, Julie Butcher with SEIU Local 721, told the committee labor believes the city's budget is in good shape. Butcher also referred to a Los Angeles Times article that found money for the scheduled raises exists in a reserve account. 

"Angelenos deserve an honest budget," Butcher said. "This budget was introduced in a dishonest way with dishonest economic projections and hidden accounts. City leaders who know better should be ashamed of themselves for misleading the public and making the livelihoods of city workers appear uncertain, even when they aren't."

Among the labor coalition's other recommendations: 

  • Enforce the Foreclosure Registry Ordinance, which fines banks $1,000 a day for allowing foreclosed homes to fall into disrepair
  • Stop using outside contractors to perform work that could be done by city employees
  • Allow advertising on city vehicles
  • Collect $80 million in outstanding debt owed to the city 

Members of the Budget and Finance Committee asked the city administrative officer to report back on the impacts of the coalition's recommendations. The fiscal year will start on July 1.

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