Lay off notices will be handed to 278 Los Angeles city workers tomorrow as negotiations continue between city officials and union leaders for concessions aimed at canceling the layoffs.
Personnel Department Assistant General Manager Phyllis Lynes said 254 of the employees are members of the Coalition of Los Angeles City Unions, whose contract protected them from layoffs only in the current fiscal year.
She said the other two dozen employees are either members of other unions, such as the Engineers and Architects Association, or are not members of any unions.
They represent the initial batch of up to 761 layoffs approved by the mayor and City Council to help close a $465 million deficit in the budget for fiscal year 2010-11.
Another 1,000 layoffs are planned on Oct. 1 if revenues from the lease of several city-owned parking garages and other sources fall short of projections.
The pink slips will serve as the employees' two weeks notice. They will be taken off the payroll on July 1, unless there is a breakthrough in labor negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Personnel Department is processing additional layoffs of 156 coalition members and 121 non-coalition members, who are expected to receive pink slips over the next several weeks.
Talks between City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and union leaders have been going on for several weeks. There was another meeting this afternoon, but both parties declined to speak to the media.
Councilman Bernard Parks seemed doubtful of a positive outcome.
"There's no scenario to balance this coming year's budget that does not include some layoffs,'' he said.
Parks said reaching a deal and then having it voted on and ratified by more than 20,000 city employees will take time. It is "probably physically impossible'' to stop the first batch of layoffs before they kick in July 1, he said.
Under the contract between the city and coalition, even one coalition layoff would trigger a 5.7 percent pay raise for all remaining coalition members, which would put a $28 million dent in the city's general fund.
The city would have to lay off between 300 and 400 coalition members to realize any savings, Parks said.
Councilman Richard Alarcon said he hoped a labor deal can be reached within the next two weeks.
"I think we are so close to closing the gap between the need to do any layoffs and a willingness of labor to forestall any salary increases that we ought to cut that deal,'' Alarcon said. "I think that sending layoff notices tomorrow is the wrong message. We ought to work with our labor partners so we can provide the services that we have.''
To help offset the pay raises, the budget calls for furloughs -- employees who receive the pay raise will be forced to take 26 unpaid days off while the rest will have to take 16 unpaid days off.
Exemptions will be made for police officers, firefighters and other critical personnel.
Victor Gordo, legal counsel for the coalition, has said the coalition will sue the city if furloughs are implemented, claiming it would violate their contract.
But Parks said "if the (unions) win the furlough battle, they lose the layoff battle because if the courts say (the city) can't furlough, the only option the city has is to lay people off.''
He criticized union leaders, saying they have refused to ask their members whether they would be willing to take the pay cuts sought by the city to avoid layoffs.
"(Union leaders) want to see what they can do to resolve it within their purview and their power,'' Parks said. "We don't believe that they have that level of influence to solve these problems with the level of money that's needed without going to their membership.''
Of the employees slated for layoffs on July 1, at least 100 are library staffers, 70 are childcare workers, 30 are recreation coordinators and park rangers, and several more are clerk/typists.
Layoffs would result in libraries operating five days a week instead of the usual six. Some childcare centers whose operations are nearly entirely subsidized by the city would be closed or see a reduction in hours, but those funded by state and federal grants would remain open.