More Furloughs? The LA Story

Los Angeles is over $400 million in the hole. With all the raids on local funding from the state level, you never know when that number may go up again.  And Mayor V looks as if he’s really considering what would be a painful option for a politician with a long history in labor: furloughs.

If no agreement is reached, Santana said, the council will proceed with plans to furlough workers – 26 days a year for all those scheduled to get cost-of-living increases this year and 18 days for those not receiving an increase.

Coalition Chairwoman Cheryl Parisi said union leaders hope a compromise can be reached. “We are committed to working together and believe we can reach an agreement,” Parisi said.

But earlier in the day, Villaraigosa insisted that he needed to be able to keep the city solvent and operating efficiently without being hamstrung by a provision prohibiting furloughs and layoffs.

“If we don’t do something to stop the hemorrhaging (of money), we could lose a lot more people,” Villaraigosa said. “I don’t want to do this. I don’t wake up every morning and say, `I want to lay off or furlough workers.’ These are good, hard-working people and they have families. I recognize that.” (LA Daily News 9/18/09)

The fact is that without the power to raise substantial revenue at the local level, the options for municipalities are getting slimmer all the time. The previous agreement that the Mayor had worked out to early retirement now seems to be if not dead, on life support as it heads for approval by the City Council.

Unfortunately, when the answer is always cut, the questions will look grimmer and grimmer.

UPDATE by Dave: The early retirement deal may still be on.

Negotiators for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council scrambled to put the finishing touches on a deal to save an early retirement program for the city’s civilian workforce while at the same time putting a dent in a $405-million budget shortfall.

The Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which has been pushing for early retirement, scheduled a 9 a.m. conference call between various civilian unions to discuss a potential deal. Minutes earlier, Villaraigosa and Council President Eric Garcetti were discussing progress on a potential agreement.

UPDATE to the UPDATE: The City Council passed the deal after unions gave up $78 million in concessions.  Members of the union coalition still must ratify the agreement.