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City Reaches Tentative Labor Deal To Avoid Civilian Layoffs And Furloughs

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A coalition of labor groups representing civilian City of Los Angeles workers has agreed to a tentative deal that would prevent layoffs and furloughs for the next six months, delaying planned raises to help lessen the pain of L.A.’s worsening COVID-19-era budget shortfall.

The agreement announced Tuesday “will achieve significant savings for the City, help protect vital public city services and ultimately eliminate layoffs and furloughs for our city workers this year,” said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU 721, which is part of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions that made the tentative deal with Mayor Eric Garcetti. It still has to be ratified in a vote by rank-and-file union members.

Details of the plan include:

  • Extending civilian labor contracts by 18 months
  • Deferring a pair of 2% raises that were due to take effect in January and June of 2021 to June 21, 2022
  • No more civilian furloughs this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Also no layoffs before then.
  • The city will meet and confer on any additional furloughs or other cost-saving measures that may be needed for the remainder of this contract.

Roughly 18,000 civilian workers are covered in the agreement. Police and fire unions are not involved in the deal.

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In December, the city council approved a plan to bridge a $675 million budget gap that included cutting city department budgets by 3%, requiring layoffs in a few departments, including 355 uniformed LAPD officers and 273 civilian Police Department employees.

The city is still hoping to strike a similar deal with the union representing LAPD officers, but union leadership has rejected the prospect of a compromise.

A statement from the Los Angeles Police Protective League’s Board of Directors argues that the $150 million the city council chipped off the LAPD budget over the summer was enough sacrifice, and blasted councilmembers’ plans for that funding:

“If the Council insists on further defunding the department by 355 more police officers while they [hoard] $110 million in funds for beautification pet projects and [street improvements] instead of cops, the results will be catastrophic for our resident’s safety.”

One possible solution on the horizon: While a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has thus far blocked a second round of assistance for local governments, the results of the elections in Georgia last week revived hopes that Democrats will push through federal help to replace tax revenues decimated by the coronavirus.

Also on Tuesday, L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield introduced a resolution asking the state for a one-time $2 billion cash injection to keep county and city governments afloat.

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“This is about making sure the public is kept safe, that critical services are delivered, and that local government doesn't get irreparably hollowed out during this historic fiscal crises," Blumenfield said.

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