Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Thursday said the city’s largest labor unions have agreed to increase retiree health care and pension contributions – an important step in addressing the city’s budget crisis.
Under the tentative deal, leaders of the Coalition of L.A. City Labor Unions agreed to increase pension contributions from 6 to 7 percent of their members’ salaries. The coalition's 22,000 members would also for the first time contribute to their retiree health care benefits. That would be 4 percent of their salaries.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the deal’s important because it involves current city employees, not newly hired workers in the future, and saves the city $400 million over three years. “This is a watershed moment, make no mistake," said Villaraigosa.
Bob Schoonover of the Service Employees International Union said the hard fought deal means unpaid furlough days will end. “There were times when we thought we’d never come to an agreement.”
The union coalition’s Cheryl Parisi said it’s a good agreement. “To stop the spiral of uncertainty where furloughs are imposed and workers have no certainty paycheck to paycheck.”
Union leaders said they still have to sell the deal to their members, who’ll vote in the next couple of weeks.
The mayor said he’ll seek similar concessions from the police, fire and engineers unions. “I guarantee you, we are going to vigorously argue that all of our employees are going to pay more for their pensions.”
The deal includes a freeze on cash overtime and ends automatic civil service raises. It trims $70 million from a projected $500 million dollar deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
That means, said the mayor, that his proposed budget will still include significant cuts to city services.