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An Offer They Can’t Refuse: Council Gives City Unions What They Want

UPDATE: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will hold a 3:30 p.m. press conference with union leaders on the deal with city unions. His press release () calls it a “MAYOR-DEAL.doc

landmark agreement (that) will save $500 million over two years without layoffs through early retirements and raise deferrals" but no mention of what it will cost taxpayers.

Meeting behind closed doors, the City Council gave to unanimous agreement to give 2,400 city workers as young as 55 sweetened benefits if they retire early.

The vote was no surprise and requires the agreement of all six unions that make up the Coalition of Unions with 22,000 members. A similar deal is likely to be offered to police, firefighters and other city workers but not the DWP, which is expanding instead of shrinking despite the economic crisis.

“We can’t afford not to do it,” Councilwoman Janice Hahn told the Times after the vote.

Added Councilman Richard Alarcon: “We’re doing our best to save city services.”

The deal requires deferring cost-of-living pay raises for two years but requires the city make up the lost money plus a bonus in the following years. It also calls for unions to up their contributions to their pension fund from 6 to 6.75 — far below Social Security contributions for far better benefits — to fund the early retirement costs but doesn’t impose the increase for two years and ends it in 2026.

The Times reported there are serious financial and legal questions about the deal.

Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the LA Chamber of Commerce, has called for a thorough financial analysis of the plan.

“The public deserves a very thorough briefing when the council gets out
of their closed-door session about what impact this will have on the
budget over the next five years,” he said today. “Because, ultimately,
the taxpayer will end up paying the bill. They’re not in the room. But
they’ll end up paying the bill.”

Still, the Chamber later issued a statement saying it “applauds Mayor Villaraigosa, the City Council and public employees
union leaders for their hard work and dedication during these lengthy and
difficult contract negotiations. Saving 500 million dollars will be very
helpful during this period of economic downturn.”

The Engineers and Architects Union, under siege from the SEIU which is backed by the mayor, issued a similar call and questioned where the plan would withstand a court challenge.

“The [early retirement plan] that they’re proposing is not legal,” said
Bob Aquino, EAA executive director,
which represents roughly 7,800 city workers not included in the
negotiations told the Times.

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39 Responses to An Offer They Can’t Refuse: Council Gives City Unions What They Want

  1. Sandy Sand says:

    Once again the tax payers got screwed without being kissed. The only thing we get is kissed off.
    Like you said, no surprise here and yet another council fiat via closed-door meeting.
    Not even Bruno and his friend G. Shepherd with all their bark and bite can stop these people who keep getting elected again and again.
    L.A. voters have to be the damned dumbest people on the planet, except for our local television media, who never, ever cover City Hall unless the mayor drops his drawers for one of “them,”
    presents himself for one of his idiotic, meaningless photo-ops, or a pol gets caught with his hand in the till or some other place where it doesn’t belong.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bob Aquino is an idiot, who does not represent anyone’s interests except his own dumb big ego.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Aquino seems to be the only one who is willing to tell the truth and stand up for his members rights, despite the vicious attacks from bought off union leaders (Butcher, Parisi, Villao…). I am extremely disappointed in my union. They are trying to convince me to vote to give up my 15% for 2 years in exchange for a bonus in 2 years (a promise not worth the paper it is written on).

  4. kk says:

    I love the anonymous city worker who posted at 8:04.
    35-40% increase in base salary over the period 2007-2014, while gathering credit for a lifelong pension with no cap (uinlike social security), while paying less than social security with a cadillac medical program and this city employee doesn’t think it is enough.
    This feels like the equivalent of wall street greed wrapped in a worker tee-shirt.

  5. jim says:

    SEIU is controlled by the mayor and Butcher. The deal is tailor made for those in the bargaining units such as Charlie Mim (LAMA) who benefits the most. He has include a provision to give additional $1000/year per year of service on top of other benefits! He has 45 years of service meainig $45,000 plus another 40 to $50,000 package of retirement for someone who would have to retire now anyway! Why should he get even a penny on top of a handsome package? where did the City all of a sudden got this money from? He pushed the .75% increase in retirement contribution, so those left behind to pay for him! This is illegal and should be stopped!control

  6. What amazes me is that the City Council approved this exceptionally complex financial scheme without any written analysis from the CLO.
    Nor does this agreement with the municipal unions address the well documented $1 billion shortfall in next year’s budget.
    Nor were there any public hearings to discuss this new and improved deal with the unions. Rather, there was lots of wheeling and dealing behind closed doors.
    Nor were there any discussions about addressing the “structural deficit” and the efficiency of the City’s bureaucracy and workforce.
    Are we to rely on the assurances of the City Council and mayor whose first allegiance is to the municipal unions’ campaign cash contributions?
    Once again, Angelenos were sold down the river by the mayor and the City Council.

  7. Anonymous says:

    There are so many legal questions about the ERIP funding it is an amazement that the City is moving ahead with this, except, perhaps, when the dust settles, the ERIP retirees will collect their bonuses, and the taxpayers will be the ones funding it after the court decisions come down in a few years. There have been legal opinions about the propriety of members increasing their retirement contributions so as to get increased benefits, and even that isn’t apparently legal. But to have the ERIP retirees funded by OTHER workers, even on the face of it, cannot be right. It would only take one retirement plan member pushing forth a legal challenge to unwind all this. Aquino is on the right track here, even if the Charley Mimms of the world are upset.

  8. linda says:

    It is sad, very sad!…….I wondered will all the voice from the public will stop the insance action?

  9. Anonymous says:

    There will always be resentment about the early retirees, public and from current employees. The solution is a reduction of the workforce through layoffs.

  10. Anonymous says:

    No, there is huge resentment against public employees having it SO much better than the middle class who bear the burden of supporting these same public employees in the style to which they have been become more than accustomed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I can’t wait to pay more to my retirement fund so my boss and my co-workers can retire early, at an extra cost of hundreds of millions. Hey, maybe in five years, if I haven’t been laid off, I can sucker and out-vote newer union members to chip in 3/4% for me. Sounds a bit like a Ponzi scheme, doesn’t it?
    So why would Local 721 push this? Well, look at the age of the people on the negotiating team. 80% of them are eligible for the early retirement package. How about Bob Schoonover, SEIU Pres. — he’s got his 30 in. Now we can give him a parting gift at our own expense. Nothing self-serving in this is there?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is anonymous 6:21 kidding?
    He is whining about having to pay 6.75% when the hit on private wages for social security is 6.2% and has been for many years and is capped at 108,000 which is below the median inocome for LADWP employees?
    And he wants to make this class warfare re: his boss and co-workers?
    If this is going to be the POV from public employees, then we seriously need to legalize marijuana, so there is some redeeming social value to this nonsense.

  13. Michael Angelo says:

    It’s time for the citizens of Los Angeles to dump these politicians that prostitute themselves to the unions! That means all of them! Enough of this false facade of working for the public. They don’t work for me! The unions are corrupting the system and the politicians are more than happy to get their support for votes. We are in a financial hardship that demands that the city reduce it’s workforce! Giving the unions money (taxpayer) to leave early is a bandaid attempt in a situation that demands a serious surgical approach. If you want to save this city, recall the Mayor and the city council members who voted to implement this ERIP. Remember Rome!

  14. Anonymous says:

    The Mayor and Council need to defer the millions of dollars spending on all projects until the economy picks up. And, instead of creating new projects with the millions of dollars that the City is receiving from the economic stimulus grants, use that to cover current obligations.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have worked for the City for 32 years and it never ceases to amaze me how its citizens (or the uninformed public at large) are so quick to “slam” City workers. Yes, there is bureaucracy at all levels of government – blame “top management” not the City worker. More often than not, I have worked alongside peers and superiors who roll up their sleeves and carry on the workload of two-plus people or work at a higher level job without compensation due to budget constraints. We willingly do this because we take pride in the service we provide the citizenry of this great City.
    Stop for a moment and close your eyes for the rest of the day– are you able to function doing your daily routine – NO – well imagine a City without its workers. Yes, its citizens may feel they do not get the “service” they expect from paying property, sales and so many other taxes, but ask yourself are your 100% satisfied with your doctor, mechanic, cable/internet companies, dentist, etc., etc. The City is proactive and conservative when it comes to civilian positions. To minimize a negative financial impact, civilian positions are not filled. That is one reason we are not facing “massive” layoffs like some other government entities and public sector companies.
    We live in an imperfect world so if you are not able to offer solutions, stop your whining! Be thankful that the City is still striving to maintain essential services during this economic nightmare.
    Personally, I prefer furloughs first, layoffs second, and lastly – early retirement, provided the City workers left behind do not have to increase their pension contributions………

  16. KK says:

    Part of the problem with city workers is that they have absolutely NO idea of what the private sector parallel is and therefore have NO idea of what a sweet deal they have.
    Case in point: the comment that many times, the city worker has seen coworkers roll up their sleeves to perform the work of two.
    I am in the advertising business and it used to be that there was 1 person who worked on a 1 million dollars media plan. That one person now works on about 30 million dollar media plan in a much more complicated media environment.
    And, that one person pays 6.2% of his/her compensation to Social Security while their employer matches it and in many instances has a 401K to which both employee and employer contribute generally up to 3% of yearly compensation.
    And, the employee is left on their own trying to figure out how to invest that 40lK money for their future retirement.
    And the employee on the City of LA side? They are not part of the social security system (which is going broke, by the way) and pay 6.0% of gross income to the system that has no caps on benefits offered and in return gets a guaranteed retirement of up to 90% of highest salary year in addition to COLA adjustments.
    So, when a city worker self righteously writes about many doing the job of two people, blaming top management for bureaucracy when it is their unions who insist upon rigorous job definitions, refusing to increase his share of pension contribution and accuses the public of “blaming” and being uninformed, it exposes the wide gulf between the public and private sectors.
    If the disparity between public and private was not so vast, citizens would not be so quick to “slam” city workers, who are more interested in keeping “theirs” than serving the public.
    Here’s a solution: shift a portion of the cost of those benefits to the unions a la GM.

  17. already paying says:

    I am already paying almost that into my retirement, its the employees who have been only paying 2% into the retirement system that is crying. We should all be paying the same percentage anyway.

  18. FranklinD says:

    I am a city worker & I could make alot more in the private sector. I rather have stability and chose to remain here.
    The contribution for the 6.2% social security has a maximum wage that it applys to. The 6% city retirement deduction has no wage cap.
    I also worked in 2 private sector jobs before going to the city. I am very aware of the differences between private sector, non profit & govt jobs.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Aquino should be kicked out/replaced from EAA.

  20. gwennie says:

    Two questions: what do you do that makes you think you can make more in the private sector?
    And when did you go to work for the city after you had two private sector jobs?
    My guess is that you held those private sector jobs more 20 years ago. That is when the city WAS paying less than the private sector, with the trade off being good sized pensions on the back end along with cadillac health care.
    That is no longer the case. How about the 25% increase in wages given by the city in December 2007 spread over 5 years. Do you think there was the equivalent increase in the private sector? And, deferring two years of that that will be paid back at a higher wage PLUS bonus?
    Right now, public sector jobs are paying 33% MORE on average PLUS retirement and health care.
    Lets see: make a $100,000 a year, pay $6,000 annually in pre tax income and walk out with a $90,000 guaranteed for life annual pension with cost of living adjustments.
    No salary cap for employee pension contributions? Lets see. Make $200,000 annually, pay 12,000 anually and walk out with $180,000 annual pension.
    Where do you think the private equivalent of that is?
    And my favorite part? Live in a different city that isn’t saddled with the same kind of employee obligations as the city of LA. I have heard that fully 50% or more of city employees do NOT live in the city of Los Angeles. I wonder why.

  21. Anonymous says:

    90% in retirement benefits? A civilian employee gets 64% of the highest 12 months pay after 30 years.

  22. Gwennie says:

    Sorry, I was thinking of public safety…and I believe that it is 75% of highest salary for civilian employees, not 64%.
    The comparison with social security & the private sector? The maximum benefit for someone who has worked 40 years and retired at 65 in 2009 is $2,172 a month or around $26,000 after working 10 years longer than city of LA employees.
    That would be the equivalent of a city employee making $45,000, which is the STARTING salary of most city workers today.
    How many paid holidays do city employees get on an anual basis? How many days of sick and vacation time can be rolled over from year to year for the city employees? Up to 52 weeks?
    For the private sector 6 weeks maximum?
    And, the contributor to social security has paid in more and gets substantially less.
    You city workers think this is just fine and dandy?

  23. Anonymous says:

    EAA should give Aquino a medal for putting up with corrupt union leaders like Butcher and Parisi. Those two need a serious make-over, preferably bags over their heads. Have you noticed that Butch/Parisi are starting to look like each other?

  24. Anonymous says:

    I met Aquino and found him to be knowledgable and reasonble despite the vicious attacks against him. He knows his labor law and is an old style union guy. On the other hand, I have been seriously doubting the credibility of my union boss, Julie Butcher, who seems to be talking out of both sides of her mouth lately. She won’t let me see the agreement she wants me to vote on. She will only give me “highlights”, so I went to the EAA website and downloaded the actual agreement. OH MY GOD! Last year Julie promised me that I would not lose my raises. So my question is, was she lying to me then or is she lying to me now?

  25. Anonymous says:

    I used to be a Butcher sycophant until I wised up. She treated me real nice, called me sweetie, let me call her Jules, and then turned on me when I disagreed with her. What a bitch. That is when I started having problems in my shop. Now I find out about all the back room deals she had with my supervisor and now I’m stuck defending myself. I wouldn’t vote for this crappy ERIP. I want my raises Butcher you duplicitous bitch!

  26. Anonymous says:

    I am an SEIU member. Julie, you told us we had to take voluntary furloughs last year when the city threatened us with layoffs. This year you negotiated away my COLA’s and increases for the next two years because the city again threatened furloughs and layoffs. Next year, when the city threatens furloughs and layoffs, what are you gonna give away then? Is that when we are going to stand and finally put up a fight when there is nothing left for us to fight for? If my union is so big and powerful, why didn’t we fight the city each step of the way?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Furloughs and layoffs will come when they come. To increase the retirement payment to pay for people who are leaving anyway is nuts. And if you think the city will be able to pay the 10% back to back deferred increases two years out you are nuts. The furlogh/layoff argument will come again. Hate to say it, but the retirees should just take what they’ve earned, we should get our increases as scheduled, and just accept the fact that we will have another day or two per month to spend time with family, or do something else to make a few bucks. Except for DWP, we still have the best deal in town. Just try and find a job these days.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Gwennie it is 64%. Do check your story. Does not help to mislead on a volatile issue.

  29. kk says:

    Glad to see that at least some understand what a great deal city of LA employees have. The problem is that it is unsustainable.

  30. Anonymous says:

    This title is misleading. The mayor pushed this plan, the unions just wanted to save jobs. SEUI and the Coalition sold out their members and EAA is fighting for their membership. Butcher works for the mayor, so how can she stand up for her members?
    This whole mess was pitched as shared sacrifice, but the civilian employees are sacrificing for the political goals of the mayor. If he wants to save money, he will get rid of the DROP program, the LAFD schedule which pays Firefighters for sleeping, and the overtime manipulations.
    No one is holding the Mayor or council accountable for not reforming these things or for not being straight with us on the budget. The Coalition messed up because of those re-opener clauses in their contracts, and because they trusted the Mayor. EAA is the only union really standing behind its members and they do not have those clauses in their contract.
    Also, people should stop complaining about city workers (that’s you KK). If you think it’s so glamorous, then why don’t you take a civil service exam? I took a pay cut going to public from private, and I know the difference between the two. We should be defending unions, if we don’t then we will end up being a right-to-work state and workers will have no rights at all.

  31. KK says:

    I am not complaining about city workers; I am complaining about an average 41% disparity between private and public employees performing comparable jobs.
    You can’t argue with facts; you tell me to stop expressing my POV using tired brommids about workers rights and lower wages. It isn’t 1990 anymore; it is 20 years later.
    By the way, I am a long time Democrat and a great ACLU supporter, so your problem with the public at large is much deeper than you realize.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Bob EAAquino is a freaken dumbass.

  33. Chris Tsangaris says:

    People need to stop being greedy these days, I DO NOT CARE TO RECEIVE MY COLA I JUST WANT TO BE ABLE TO KEEP MY EXISTING PAY WITHOUT LOOSING MY JOB. MR.ACQUINO needs to stop trying to playing with our lives for 3%, I rather keep my job that loose it for 3 percent. Lets wake up EAA

  34. Anonymous says:

    There’s no 90% pension or 75% pension payout. Yea I guess these are the facts we can’t argue with, the ones that are made up
    41% disparity across the board, how did you come up with this
    I used to work for several companies in private industry before working for the city so I know both sides. Spreading misinformation and demonizing city employees just to have a victim mentality is childish and ridiculous.

  35. FranklinD says:

    To Gwennie:
    I left private sector in 1993. I was talking about job offers from private sector employees in the past several years. I don’t want to start over with 2 weeks vacation (with a new employer) when I will get 22 days next year. At my last private sector job (even today), one earns 4 weeks after 10 yrs. It takes 17 years working with the city to get 22 days vacation. (from 17 days in years 6-16)
    I enjoy working for the city. I worked just as hard at the city that I did in the private sector.
    As for unions, the SEIU & Coalation are corrupt. EAA tells it like it is. Call a “spade” a “spade”!

  36. FranklinD says:

    I forgot to mention that my previous private sector jobs had better than “cadillac” medical plan. No copays, no fees, PPO plan, etc. Paid nothing out of my pocket. My prospective private sector job offers have similar benefits. PPO, etc.

  37. Anonymous says:

    For anonymous 9:46
    If you doubt the 90% figure, I guess you don’t know about the retirement package offered police and fire.
    I have heard BOTH the 64% and 75% figure. Guess what? in either case, it is a helluva lot more than what the private sector gets
    The 41% figure? Among other sources:
    Quoting from February 18,2009 Forbes Magazine: “Gilt Edged Pensions” by Stephane Fitch:
    “The common presumption is that public servants forgo high wages in exchange for safe jobs and benefits. The reality is they get all three. State and local government workers get paid an avergae of $25.30 an hour, which is 33% higher than the private sector’s $19.00, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics data. Throw in pensions and other benefits and the gap widens to 42%.”
    What is childish is resorting to personal attack when the facts are not on your side.
    For Franklin D:
    2o years ago is a long, long time. In 1993, you’re right: there weren’t copays, fees and non e of us knew about PPO. In 1993, the private sector DID pay more than public; no longer and your benefits are better.
    Times have changed. Many of us have a minmumum of $500.00 deductible as well as copays and everything else you mentioned. Health care premiums have been in double digits. As a small business owner, my premiums have increased 33% this year alone, while the city employees have an outstanding health care program including vision and dental, with very little if any deductibles.

  38. Emelyne Carreon says:

    To All RUDE-posting Anonymous,
    First of all, don’t hide behind the word and tell us who you really are. To me, it sounded like you’re one of the EAA goons and die hard supporters.
    There are perks and downside of being a city employee. That is why I am willing to accept a deferment of COLA and work with the City instead of being furloughed. I’ve been working for the City for over 26 years and I couldn’t care less if the City lay off new workers, but I’m not greedy. I’ll take whatever I can get that the City is willing to give. I think that goes for many city workers.
    The offer that Tom Coulter from CAO gave Aquino and EAA members temporary reprieve from getting a 10 % paycut and should have been accepted but instead, turned down by Aquino. That goes to show that Aquino is looking out for his own, and not the members best interest. He’s been saying that EAA contract has no re-opener and therefore EAA members will not be laid off or furlough, and the City has to give our 3% COLA. Yes, we did get our 3% pay increase, but we are only union getting furloughed either. Even the non-represented employees got a better deal!!!
    In this economic situation, it is time for negotiation, and give and take is much necessary. Demanding whatever you want does not work with the City, the employees and the public. Everyone is hurting and everyone should be helping each other. In the end, we will be better off if we do the right thing. So Bob Aquino, do the right thing and work for all EAA members and not for your own self!!!

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