LA Mayor Villaraigosa orders more furloughs after workers reject deal

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Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Los Angeles city workers join City Council President Eric Garcetti (at the podium) and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in announcing that most members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions approved a deal to avoid unpaid furlough days. Bargaining units representing more than 6,000 workers rejected the deal, and face 42 furlough days.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday ordered more than seven weeks of unpaid furlough days for thousands of city workers after they rejected a labor union deal.

The mayor imposed the furloughs for workers who refused to defer pay raises and increase contributions to their retirement healthcare plans.

“I am not some tough guy behind a podium. I don’t relish doing this," Villaraigosa said. "I have no choice.”

The mayor said the city must furlough these workers to help address a $460 million deficit.

Clerical workers, assistant city attorneys and 911 operators among others face 42 unpaid furlough days. City officials said they're still figuring out how many workers would face furloughs, but the number would be in the thousands.

The mayor said the furloughs would mean "diminished city services."

Fifteen of the 19 bargaining units of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions agreed to defer raises and increase retirement healthcare contributions. Those units represent 13,000 workers.

“This agreement was a tough pill to follow, but we understood these are historic times," street services worker Tim Butcher said.

Under the deal, the city will contribute more to the retirement healthcare plans of workers who supported the contract.

The agreement does not cover police officers, firefighters or employees of the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

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