Angelenos Deserve an Honest Budget

Members of the Coalition of LA City Unions, including SEIU 721, presented their financial proposals on May 6 to the LA City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee. Bottom line: the Coalition told the city to live up to its contract with city workers and retain the 5.5 percent pay raises scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

The committee is in its second week of budget hearings on Mayor Villaraigosa’s $7.7 billion city budget. Citing LA’s uncertain financial future, the mayor proposed withholding the raises. He also wants city workers to pay 10 percent more toward their healthcare.

In an opening statement, Julie Butcher with SEIU Local 721, told the committee labor believes the city’s budget is in good shape. Butcher also referred to a Los Angeles Times article that found money for the scheduled raises exists in a reserve account.

“Angelenos deserve an honest budget, said Butcher. “This budget was introduced in a dishonest way with dishonest economic projections and hidden accounts. City leaders who know better should be ashamed of themselves for misleading the public and making the livelihoods of city workers appear uncertain, even when they aren’t.” Read Butcher’s full opening statement here.

City Workers Say ‘Think Outside the Box’
Make banks clean up or pay up: Amend and enforce the Foreclosure Registry Ordinance, which fines banks $1,000 a day for allowing foreclosed homes to fall into disrepair.
Contract in, not out: Stop using outside contractors to perform work that could be done by city employees.
Involve Joint Labor Management Committees as a matter of course in all aspects of city business, whether contemplating a policy change or a major departmental consolidation.
Be a contractor: LA has tens of thousands of skilled employees. The city should bid to be a contractor elsewhere in areas like inspections, printing, street services and trash and recycling.
Municipal marketing: Allow advertising on city vehicles and sponsorships.
Collect the debt: Collect $80 million in outstanding debt owed to the city.

After the presentation, city workers spoke out about the budget during public comment.

2013-2016-EBoard-Nady-Maechling-80x100.jpg“I’m glad city leaders are no longer trying to lay off workers. Residents need and deserve all the services they can get. But I’m disappointed because there is a lot missing in this budget, especially since we’re out of the recession. Some of the things city workers have been pushing to implement for years aren’t in there. It’s time to take things seriously, like cleaning up bank-owned blight.”

-Nady Maechling, LA City Engineer and SEIU 721 Executive Board Member

Members of the Budget and Finance Committee asked the City Administrative Officer to report back on the impacts of the coalition’s recommendations. After getting the reports, the committee will revise the budget and send it to the full City Council for a vote before June 1.

Download a flyer about the budget to post at your worksite.

For more information, contact the SEIU 721 Member Connection: (877) 721-4YOU (4968).