LA workers vote to protect them from layoffs, furloughs

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Some 22,000 city workers are voting on a labor deal that would protect them from layoffs and furloughs but keep them from receiving pay raises until 2011, to help the city reduce its $530 million budget deficit.

Members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions began casting ballots last week. The results will be announced Wednesday.

Barbara Maynard, spokeswoman for the coalition, hopes the deal with be ratified.

'With so many workers facing layoffs and furloughs at the county, at the school district, at the state of California, at the courts, we really believe that (coalition) members will understand that it's in the best interest of their families and the city residents who rely on their services that they give up their pay raises for two years and keep their jobs and avoid furloughs.' she said.

Under the agreement, coalition members will defer their cost of living increases in 2009 and 2010. The city will pay them back by giving them a raise in January and July from 2011 through 2014.

The workers will receive a 2.25 percent increase every July from 2011 through 2013, and a 2.75 percent increase every January from 2012 through 2014.

The workers would also receive cash bonuses equivalent to 1.75 percent of their salaries in November 2011 and 2012 and July 2013.

The deal would also require coalition members to increase their pension contributions by 0.75 percent, so that as many as 2,400 workers can retire early withoutthe city having to pay for their early retirement benefits.

City officials hope the deal will save $200 million this fiscal year and $300 million during the next fiscal year.

The Engineers and Architects Association, which represents another 7,800 city workers, was also asked to defer raises but refused, and its members received salary increases at the start of the month.

But when the city moved to lay off some of its workers, EAA Executive Director Bob Aquino said his union is willing to negotiate 'any time and any place.'

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