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City Council OKs Pension Deal, Steps Up Pressure On Vote Holdouts

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(credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Public employees will begin paying toward retiree health care after the City Council on Friday approved contract amendments for thousands of workers in exchange for an end to furloughs.

The vote, which comes after groups representing 13,000 city workers approved the deal earlier this week, also steps up pressure on the four other bargaining units to return to negotiations.

In exchange for employees paying 4 percent of their salaries into retiree health care and deferring three previously negotiated pay raises, the city promised to end furloughs for three years and guarantee to pay for those workers’ health care in retirement even as costs rise.

“This represents something very important for Los Angeles,” said City Council President Eric Garcetti. “It represents what other cities and states around the country have been unable to accomplish.”

The council also ordered its lead negotiator, Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, to give the four bargaining units who voted to oppose the new contract agreement one week to call for a new vote or to ask for specific changes to the agreement.

The units representing clerical workers, plant equipment engineers, deputy city attorneys and security personnel — represent 6,300 city workers and make up about 43 percent of the Coalition’s full time members.

Santana said he would send those units a letter today informing them of the deadline. He said he has not yet been asked by any of the four units for specific changes that might entice their members to vote for a contract agreement.

Meetings will begin next week to discuss whether or not the city would even be open to changes, Santana said.

Garcetti said that the council will move forward next week to freeze the city’s retirement medical subsidies for the units that voted “no.”

“On Tuesday I believe this body will take action on that and I encourage this body to stand strong to move forward on that so we do have a balanced budget,” Garcetti said.

Smith said unions that have not agreed to pay more into their pensions have until the end of May to vote to do so.

“If they report back to us in late May, we could go back in and fix the budget,” Smith said, adding that late votes would require another round of budget hearings. But he said they would be much simpler and faster and would save the city a lot of money.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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