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The Tyrants’ Response to Rebellion at City Hall

So much for all that talk about the City Hall family.

Like tyrannical bosses the world over, the mayor and City Council reacted to the vote of “no confidence” by 43 percent of the civilian workers by taking immediate steps to crush the recalcitrant peasants with the full force of their authority.

How dare these little people, these second-rate lawyers, these clerks, park rangers, animal control officers, 911 operators, wastewater plant workers, lifeguards, these nobodies reject giving up 4 percent of their pay for health care and taking a 1.5 percent pay cut next year instead of getting a 5 percent raise.

Didn’t they understand it was an offer they couldn’t refuse?

Taking a page out of the Handbook for Bad Labor Relations, the city’s leaders acted swiftly to rejection of the deal by 6,300 workers — 43 percent of those covered by the contract — by ordering them to take 42 unpaid furlough days starting immediately unless they change their minds within a week.

Listening to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and Council members during the first day of hearings Wednesday on the $457 million deficit budget for next year you would have thought the city’s financial troubles were the fault of the workers — not the mayor and the city’s leaders.

That 80 percent of the City Attorney’s already decimated staff will be put on furloughs is Carmen Trutanich’s problem. No mercy. Criminals going free, civil cases lost because there’s no one to do the job? Not the mayor or Council’s problem.

The real victims, of course, are the taxpayers who pay the bills and have stood by powerless as union bosses and city officials cut deals for extravagant salaries and benefits for years. Now, they won’t even get the services they paid for.

This unprecedented rebellion against the unions’ and city’s leaders by workers doesn’t just happen.

For each of the past three years, the unions’ and city leaders have renegotiated contract after contract knowing full well the deals were phony, nothing but tricks to get through another 12 months before more cuts were needed.

This time 43 percent of the workers called them on it. Their trust was betrayed and they knew full well the budget problems only get worse and this deal would only last until the next round of budget finagling.

The workers didn’t bankrupt the city. The mayor and Council did. They have used every trick from early retirements, transfers and furloughs to get through each year without being honest about the problems and offering real solutions.

They treated different classes of workers differently.

It’s one thing for cops to lose a lot of their cash payments for overtime. It’s another to lose 10 to 15 percent of pay through furloughs and watch DWP workers keep on getting pay raises every year.

The cold indifference of city leaders to the impact of rejection of this latest deal on workers and public services is symptomatic of all that’s wrong at City Hall.

They failed the public. They failed the workers. They take no responsibility for their failure, deflecting blame to the people they have betrayed.

Last month, roughly 43 percent of voters rejected the incumbent Council members. Now, it’s 43 percent of the workers.

It’s not enough to bring down this failed government, not enough to bring the city’s leaders to their senses.

But the trend is clear enough.

City Hall is losing the confidence of the people and its work force.

Nothing good will come from any of this until there is an honest and open public conversation about the state of the city, about what the diverse communities of the city want and need, about what the city can afford to provide.

They may be able to bully and beat these 6,300 rebellious workers into submission but the myth of the City Hall family has been destroyed. It will not be easy to restore credibility to a city leadership that behaves like tyrannical bosses the world over.

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23 Responses to The Tyrants’ Response to Rebellion at City Hall

  1. InsideOpinion says:

    Calm down, Ron. You usually are pretty good about stuff but you have the wrong impression on this one, and it’s probably due to the way this was announced by the Mayor’s Office. By which I mean, he purposely makes it sound as if the furloughs have been increased for those people, as a scare tactic.
    Here’s the facts: The agreement was reached several weeks ago, and the membership was told that it was either the terms of this agreement or they would be furloughed 36 days next year: The usual 10% plus another 3.8% to cancel out their cost-of-living increases (there was obviously more, but this is the relevant part). To “sweeten” the deal, the City told all Coalition employees that CURRENT year furloughs would stop at 160 hours (the Mayor’s announcement said “immediately” but some people hadn’t quite reached the 160 hours), which was six days short of the number imposed on July 1, 2010. HOWEVER, if the agreement was rejected, those members were expected to “pay back” the missing 6 furlough days for this year. In other words, the “sweetener” for the deal went away if there was no deal.
    If you stop and read the full announcement, you can see that all the mayor’s doing is (for once) abiding by the agreement. Six days this year and 36 days next year equal 42 days total. This isn’t retaliation, it’s not punishment, and it’s not new. It was part of the deal from the beginning.
    It is, however, a scare tactic, and the employees are being given a week to “reconsider” their rejection of the deal. I hope they don’t panic and do read all the details so that they realize this is what they voted on to begin with — nothing new here.

  2. mike says:

    @InsideOpinion…have u looked at this issue as a city employee perspective? the workers were ripped off when we agreed for furloughs. we were promised increase at the end. instead, they breached the contract. city attorneys office, whom the mayor dislike by cutting their budget every year, defended the mayor and the city against the union and its workers. Ron Kaye is right and we knew this would happen if we don’t accept the proposal. The mayor needs to cut the city’s spending but not at the expense of the workers. A massive city wide audit must be done. Mayor Rico Suave needs to go, NOW!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    City Hall is losing the confidence of the people and its work force.
    Ron, the entire city LOST CONFIDENCE a long time ago. City Hall is filled with nothing but a bunch of worthless. leaderless, incompetent thugs. They have wasted MILLIONS OF OUR tax dollars on BS stuff. Watch tonight Channel 9-2 David Goldstein report on the abuse of Traffic Enforcement and where they go on our dime. The corruption is beyond appalling and where is STate Controller John Chiang on the issue. Word has it he’s in deep with the thugs and terrified to audit LA. Well, then let’s push him and MAKE him the way he audited BELL. Or else let’s get him out.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This city government is so comitted to so many deals themselves that we ought to put them on furlough and reduce their pay. How about two “3 month” sessions a year?

  5. red says:

    “until there is honest and open public…” so until then, does that mean i have to continually stretch every nickle, dime and penny – of which, thanks to the ‘no’ vote, i have fewer of – and deny my kids what they NEED on a check to check basis so those who voted for the ratification AND those who proprietary departments can continue to collect a full check? we can sit here and talk about how promises were broken, but i’ll take a broken promise any day over more furloughs. to think that politicians would keep their word is a joke. but to allow them to now take more of my check so that the GENERAL FUND can stay above the red line, no! i don’t see it! that ‘no’ vote from MOU 3 just robbed my household – a single income, single mom of 2 teenagers, where we live in a hotel and have no car – of what little we can spare check to check. thanks 43%ers! thanks for NOTHING!

  6. Steward says:

    Ron, I can’t believe you hit the nail on the head…dead center this time.
    It is, in fact, a rebellion by the workers against their union leadership AND the City leaders. It is, in fact, a vote of no confidence. The City leaders and the Coalition principles tried every trick in the book, including but not limited to, lying to the workers and trying to intimidate them. The City leaders have not been honest with either the workers or tax-paying public. The Mayor’s retaliation now begins, however, irrespective of how these “immediate” furloughs are going to play out in the “real world” [The Mayor has not spent much time there lately]. The public is already waking up to the fact that the 911 operators services will be decimated. Although the Mayor will try his best to conceal this hazardous calamity, or try and deflect accountability, the press will be all over it. There is more to come because, of the adverse affects to Public Safety these furloughs will have, has yet to be revealed. The other shoe is about to drop!
    Stay on this, things will happen quickly.

  7. nn says:

    Red, thanks for nothing? How are you going to feed your kids on less pay? At least with a furlough you could have used the day to work elsewhere for the money you need for your family. Now you get to work the same amount of hours for less pay – duh!

  8. Malikka says:

    @REd– we were going to have furloughs regardless!! Don’t believe the hype! It was smart of use 43%ers to vote no!!! They will always come back for more! Until the city gets rid of Mayor V, there is nothing you can do… Just relax, pray, and do your job to the best of your abiliities!

  9. a very sad city employee says:

    I will like too start by saying to “red” that im so saddened too hear what your going through with your family. It’s unfortunate too know that other people don’t take this type of situations into consideration or have the mentality that we do.
    I too am mad with the the voting outcome. We all should of voted YES. The way i see it is yeah we’re getting a pay cut by paying more, but guess what we’re vesting into ourselves, so in the long run its going to benefit us. If we worked for private industry company we would have too pay much more. Some of the people out there haven’t realized how good we have it here. I hope all the employees that voted NO realize the damage they have done too all of us.. All we could do now is pray for the best and hope this gets ratified.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Need to layoff 1000 police officers now that crime is at a 50 year low.

  11. a very sad city employee says:

    I will like too start by saying to “red” that im so saddened too hear what your going through with your family. It’s unfortunate too know that other people don’t take this type of situations into consideration or have the mentality that we do.
    I too am mad with the the voting outcome. We all should of voted YES. The way i see it is yeah we’re getting a pay cut by paying more, but guess what we’re vesting into ourselves, so in the long run its going to benefit us. If we worked for private industry company we would have too pay much more. Some of the people out there haven’t realized how good we have it here. I hope all the employees that voted NO realize the damage they have done too all of us.. All we could do now is pray for the best and hope this gets ratified.

  12. Jim O'Sullivan says:

    Anyone up for Secession? Nothing short of that or a new Charter that brings in a Borough System will address the issues confronting Los Angeles today.

  13. Lucy says:

    Running a City is all about balance, which is a concept that completely eludes this Mayor, CAO and City Council. How can you expect to balance a budget shortfall on the backs of less than 30% of employees, while 70% of your employees are receiving 100% of their salaries? How do you make up for a decrease in revenue by giving huge tax breaks to wealthy businesses and waiving fees? How can you justify hiring police officers while you are threatening to layoff and fire prosecutors? Until there is balance, this City’s problems will never be solved.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Time for a full scale strike by City workers.

  15. InsideOpinion says:

    @mike: You miss the point, although I agree that the City violated the last Letter of Agreement by imposing furloughs without going to traditional bargaining as required by that agreement. The point is that the Mayor is not imposing additional days as “punishment” to those units that rejected the deal … the point is that it was part of the deal from the beginning. The way he’s wording it is definitely a scare tactic.
    I also agree with Lucy, who says that it is impossible to balance the budget on the backs of less than 30% of employees. Absolutely, and I’ve posted in the past that what Council and the Mayor should have done — before furloughs, before ERIP, before anything — was lay. people. off. If they had done that a few years ago, it would have affected fewer people than it’s affecting now while saving a lot more money than the penny-ante savings that they’ve managed to glean.
    @Red: I am so sorry to hear how this will affect you, and I agree that the reason MOU 3 was rejected appears to be because there are so many members in Airports, Harbor, and other special-fund positions who voted no. Clearly the agreement held no appeal for them, and the General Fund members are the ones who suffer.
    I was shocked several years ago, when the furloughs first began in earnest, to discover how many people are living so close to the edge that even a 10% drop in their pay put them into financial dire straits. They’ve somehow made it work for them, but additional furlough time will push some into insolvency. They will have to choose between paying the car note or paying the house note, or feeding/clothing their kids.
    You may ask yourself how an additional 3-5% cut in pay could have such results, especially when, compared to most other places, the clerical staff is fairly well-compensated. The answer is that MOU 3 is made up overwhelmingly of women of child-bearing age, and many of them are single mothers. Fathers either don’t pay child support or are out of work themselves. I hope that the other MOU 3 members will at least find it in their hearts to set up a fund for their General Fund co-workers who may lose homes, cars, etc.
    There’s no easy answer — a yes vote creates one set of problems, a no vote another. It is completely unfair that the employees have to bear this burden because their leaders have failed to lead the City. What a horrible situation, and all that’s happening is that the workforce is becoming more and more fractured, and resentment continues to grow. The public sees us all as spoiled, whiny babies, and I do understand why, when you hear all the benefits. But as my mother always said, “Do you blame the ones who took the deal, or the ones who offered it?” Remember that the contracts for benefits, salary, everything were approved by City Council and the Mayor even after they were told that financial hard times were coming. They are the ones who need to take responsibility and fix it, without targeting one group of employees (civilians) and pretending that it will fix the problem.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thank you City workers , I was wondering when you would stop feeling as if this is your fault. The mis management of funds has been a problem for years. In fact, this vote is a vote of no confidence in the Mayor, CAO and City Council they have lied ,tricked and mis used their power for years, and the employees are saying enough is enough. We did not create this mess and it should not be on the backs of a few to fix it.
    Example did you know that no one in City hall is furloughed, did you know only 30% of the Citys’ employees has the burden of balancing the budget with furloughs.
    the budget issues could have been resolved from the beginning if everyone, 100% of City employees including DWP and LAPD & fire was furloughed along with a hard freeze, could have been a solution.
    Maybe we could have done 4 days a week, that could have been another solution.
    Laying off police & fire is another solution ,did you know Fire and Police suck up 70% of the general fund, Why ????
    Another abuse is in management, we have more GM asst. then ever before ,$200,000-$300,000 per year Why?
    There are ways to balance the budget but because the people who screwed it up is trying to fix it, Good luck with that.

  17. Steward says:

    I think that the real problem that the City faces is, now, just started to be discussed by those who swallowed the deceptive rhetoric only to discover that it was misinformation. It’s not the Employees and it’s not the voters. It’s the leadership, that only knows one way to balance the budget. Cuts, cuts and more cuts on 30% of employees. What about cutting on the amount of tax breaks? Stop failing to collect the revenues; contractor debts, fines and citations.
    The City has laid off hundreds of employees already and 10,897 have had furloughs since July of 2010. What has the City done with that money?
    They squandered it. How? Ask the City Attorney’s office about ADI’s fraud against the City; $30-180 million worth.
    This isn’t about selfishness, contrary to popular belief. This is about negligence, incompetence and acute mismanagement.

  18. Anonymous says:

    50 year low my ass. Don’t you read or watch the news. There is violent crime all over the city and officers had to shoot two suspects in 24 hr period yesterday. Don’t believe those BS numbers on crime. Everyone neighborhood is having an uptick but the Mayor and Chief are pretending its safe out there. LAPD wants you to know they’re fudging the books and making them work harder to pretend crime is down. ITS NOT,,AND CLIMBING HIGHERE

  19. Anonymous says:

    I hope that City Employees forward a link to this story and comment discussion to all of the other City employees. The time has come to revolt against the City Council, the CAO, and Mayor. THEY have not suffered. THEIR campaign contributors continue to receive rich grants, loans and below market rents of City assets… meanwhile, the Mayor and Council say that the only “solution” is to gouge just 30% of the City’s workforce.
    Time for a worker strike and loud protests in City Council Chambers where the Council will cower and mumble platitudes to try to blow off the City’s employees.

  20. anonymous says:

    I was told that the majority of the members of the unions that voted “no” are special funded employees that do not rely on the General Fund. Whether or not they pay more into the pension and benefits and furloughs is moot–except for paying more means a lower paycheck. The sad part is that these unions also have employees that rely on the General Fund and lose out. These General Funded members are very upset. They voted “yes” and feel that it wasn’t fair that their special funded (I think that’s the correct term-not positive) fellow members should not have voted. It’s analogous to non-Valley residents voting against secession.
    In addition, some said the way it was written on the ballot was confusing–not misleading, just not clear on what “yes” and “no” meant.

  21. Anonymous says:

    What about the elephant in the room — LAPD and LAFD’s sweet deal!!! The Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) continues. This program pays out an additional 1/2 million to each officer for continuing to work an additional 5 years.

  22. Steward says:

    It’s not going to stop there either. There is already rumors abounding that the Coalition will keep members voting until it passes. The LA Times has even come out in favor of this. [We should have had this perpetual voting process for the Bush-Gore Election] The ends do not justify the means. However, if they want to do an entire re-vote of all bargaining units with a third party neutral collecting and counting the votes, no problem.

  23. MAD says:

    I too am a single parent of five. I am months behind on my mortgage and all other bills, however, I voted NO. Come on people can’t you see I would much rather continue doing the furloughs that have already set me back than to commit myself to a pay cut which will be binding on my MOU. We can still be in danger of being furloughed. For those of you who think you won’t look back. For those of us who voted for furloughs and layoffs the first time around we voted on NO layoffs. What happened people were still layed off and others were displaced. By now we should have learned that anything that comes out of the Mayor’s mouth and some of his council members is a bunch of garbage. Now Local 3090 has bowed down to their level and is calling on a re-vote. Yes Local 3090, not the members because I did not want a revote. What is going on with our election process. We revote until they get what they want. I thought I am living in the USA where we have a democratic process. What is going on. We do need to get rid of this council and everyone else who is being deceptive and having backdoor secret meetings. Why is it that just a select few of the unions are being faced with layoffs, furloughs and paycuts. Why is the Police Department (SWORN) union not playing the game and helping with this budget crisis. Why can’t we take cuts across the board. For those of you who are not aware. The police chief does not want to agree with furloughs for his department and why is the Mayor not insisting they partake like everyone else. Don’t be fooled that it has to do with safety and keeping officers out in the street. The majority of those officers are working inside jobs filling the positions of all the furloughed personnel. Enough is enough already. When is this nonsense going to stop.

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