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Police labor deal seemingly balances Los Angeles budget

by Chris Hinyub, published

When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the 2011-12 budget earlier this month, he claimed that he had erased the city's $336 million deficit. The only problem was that “the most far-reaching pension concessions package in the United States of America” (Villaraigosa's words) required concessions from LAPD staff that weren't yet offered.


Apparently, a tentative agreement between the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) and city officials regarding their new three-year labor contract has made good on the mayor's promise of $41 million in give-backs from police.  Police union members have agreed to freeze their salaries for the fiscal year beginning July 1, in exchange for increased overtime benefits and incremental raises of 3 percent next year and 4 percent in 2013-14.  Paul Weber, LAPPL president, told reporters last Friday that neither side got everything it wanted, but the contract is fair. Weber said he wouldn't divulge anymore details until the deal is presented to members for ratification.


What is known is that the city budget cut police overtime pay by $80 million earlier this month, and last week's negotiations between city officials and police union representatives centered around this issue.  Officials threatened to cut the 250-hour maximum of overtime to 96 hours and impose furloughs without a new contract. Police Chief Charlie Beck said that such a move would force him to reassign officers on specialized units to regular patrol duty, creating a public safety risk. The tentative agreement allows officers to bank up to 800 hours in paid-time-off rather than collect overtime.


The proposed contract would retain the $1,060 monthly health care subsidy paid by the city, but now police officers would be required to contribute to their retirement health care account. The subsidy would rise about 5 percent per year. 


The majority of city workers through their civilian unions have agreed to similar deals. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said he expects the city to save $300 million over the life of the contract.


     "Combined with the 20 percent salary reduction for starting officers agreed to in the last contract, and the new sworn pension tier approved by the voters, this agreement significantly curtails the city's projected pension and post-retirement benefit costs," Santana said.


Officials hope the plan will serve as a model for the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City.  Representatives from the Protective League said they will comment after the proposal is voted on by members.

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