AFSCME District Council 36

Mayor Villaraigosa Threatens to Bypass the City Council to Enact Pension Reform

In a new low, Los Angeles City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana made an announcement to the press in late March – before speaking to the Coalition of LA City Unions – that the City “can no longer afford to pay raises that are due to roughly 20,000 of its workers July 1.” Then, adding insult to injury, Mayor Villaraigosa threw another bomb when he told the LA Times in late March that he is prepared to put a measure on the city ballot to raise the retirement age of new hires “if the City Council refuses to enact such a proposal."

The mayor even referenced the extreme anti-worker pension measures in San Jose and San Diego as models for LA. Remember, this is the mayor who campaigned on his background as a labor organizer. Moreover, he is going to be chairing the Democratic National Convention this summer. With friends like these, as the saying goes, who needs enemies?

He sure has changed his tune abruptly, since issuing public praise for the Coalition for its willingness to negotiate substantial cost-saving concessions. In the Mayor’s own words not too long ago: “The Coalition has stepped up to the plate and done their part.” In fact, Coalition members have amended their contract no fewer than three times to provide the City with nearly $850 million in budget savings.

By contrast, the City has not taken even the most basic steps, such as collecting huge amounts of debt owed to the City. Council 36 Executive Director Cheryl Parisi, who sits on a commission appointed by the City Council in 2010, says the City would create at least $350 million in new revenue simply by going after uncollected fees and better managing its finances and contracts with local businesses. Message to the mayor: It’s high time for the City to “step up to the plate.”

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