public healtLos Angeles Unions Approve $400 Million Health-Care Givebacks to Save Jobs

To contact the reporters on this story:Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at [email protected].

To contact the editor responsible for this story:Mark Tannenbaum at [email protected]

The health-care contributions, coupled with additionalpension payments, mean employees will be putting aside 11percent of their salaries for retirement benefits starting July1, up from 6 percent today, according to Miguel Santana, thecity administrative officer.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks onstage at the Public Counsels William O. Douglas Award Dinner held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 18, 2011 in Beverly Hills. Photograppublic health jobsher: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

I have a message for Wisconsins Scott Walker, themayor said at an April 20 budget press conference. Collectivebargaining works.

Los Angeles, the second-largest U.S. city by population,ces a $457 million deficit in a general-fund budget of$4.4 billion for fiscal 2012. The accord will save $396 millionover the next four years, according to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

As part of the accord, the city will continue to pay forincreases in retiree health-care costs, Santana said in atelephone interview before the vote. Previously, the citymaintained that the increases werent part of their contracts.

Governments across the U.S. are asking public employees tocontribute more for health-care and retirement costs. WisconsinGovernor Scott Walker sparked a nationwide debate when he signeda law that eliminated collective bargaining for benefits andincreased contributions for health care and pensions. Ohiopassed a similar law, and New Jerseys Chris Christie is alsoseeking to cut worker benefits.

At least 18 states took action last year to reduce theirpension liabilities, either by cutting benefits or increasingcontributions, according to the Pew Center on the States.

public healtLos Angeles Unions Approve $400 Million Health-Care Givebacks to Save Jobs,Los Angeles city workers voted tocontribute 4 percent of their salaries toward retirement healthbenefits for the first time to avoid furloughs and job cuts.

The mayor has proposed closing the citys deficit for theyear that begins July 1 through a combination of spendingreductions, fund transfers and borrowing $43 million.

We came together in the best interest of both workers andLos Angeles residents, Tim Butcher, a heavy-duty truckoperator with the citys Bureau of Street Services, said in astatement from the union. The changes to our contracts willend furloughs immediately, and that means we can get back towork for the people of this city.

About 19,000 full- and part-time employees were eligible tocast ballots yesterday, and 80 percent of the bargaining unitsapproved the plan, the Coalition of Los Angeles City Unionstrade association said in an e-mailed republic healtLos Angeles Unions Approve $400 Million Health-Care Givebacks to Save Jobslease today. The workerscurrently pay nothing toward the benefits.

Employees ced the prospect of taking as many as 36 unpaiddays off, representing a 14 percent reduction in their salaries,without the agreement, Villaraigosa said.

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