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LA Will Offer Cash Payouts To Convince City Workers To Retire

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The City of Los Angeles will offer some workers a cash incentive to retire under a new measure the City Council approved on Tuesday.

The separation agreements were designed as an alternative to the 16,000 civilian worker furloughs that Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed in his budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which starts this week.

Labor groups don't want their members to face what amounts to a 10% pay cut -- so unions presented the buyouts as another way for the city to control short-term costs.

"[The program] will also realize ongoing savings if the council remains disciplined in the degree to which empty positions are filled in coming years," Budget Chair Paul Krekorian said.

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Here's the gist: if a furloughed employee who is eligible to retire chooses to do so this year -- they'll get a cash payment stretched out over two years, with $7,500 up front and a larger sum one year later. It will be based on the employee's salary and years of service, with a maximum of $80,000.

Some councilmembers expressed fears about the program's effect on city services and the workforce.

"I worry about that we're expecting junior employees to take on these additional duties," Councilmember Bob Blumenfield said. "This is not a simple, quick fix. I don't know that we have succession plans in place."

"The brain drain will matter," City Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn acknowledged during a Budget and Finance Committee meeting Monday.

If enough of the 2,800-plus workers who are eligible for the program sign up, buyouts could minimize or eliminate furloughs. If not, furloughs could begin by September.

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