LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Thousands of Los Angeles County union employees marched in downtown L.A. Tuesday to demand higher wages amid county-wide budget cuts and hiring freezes.

KNX 1070’s Vytas Safroncikas reports many as 3,000 workers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) rallied at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration to urge the Board of Supervisors to recognize the county has “fully recovered from the recession.”

County nurses, librarians, social workers, public health workers, probation officers and park employees were on hand as county CEO William Fujioka presents his recommended 2013-14 budget to the board.

Fujioka unveiled his $25 billion “no cuts, no deficit” budget proposal on Monday – the first since 2011 to achieve a balanced budget.

Now union officials like county Health Services worker and SEIU 721 Executive Board Member Alina Mendizabal want the county to recognize its employees.

“Across the nation, the 1 percent are expanding their fortunes as working families struggle to get by. With this budget, L.A. County can take the lead and narrow the gap in Southern California,” Mendizabal said in a statement. “It’s time to invest in the public sector by giving tens of thousands of L.A. County workers a raise.”

But Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said the county’s improved fiscal health was directly tied to protecting jobs – not wages.

“The decision we made was to not increase salaries, and yet not cause anyone to lose their job,” Ridley-Thomas said. “That’s why we’re in as good a shape as we’re in now.”

County workers will enter contract negotiations with the County in June.


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