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First layoffs hit library, child-care workers

June 16, 2010 12:43:52 AM PDT
Facing a looming budget deficit, the city of Los Angeles is handing out pink slips on Wednesday to 278 workers, while the city and unions continue negotiating.Library staff and child-care workers are expected to be the most affected by the first round of layoffs. The pink slips will serve as the employees' two weeks notice. The layoffs would being July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, which means libraries will be open five days a week rather than six days a week. Child-care centers that are subsidized by the city will be closed or their hours will be reduced.

Palms Park Child Care Center is one of many child-care centers that may be forced to shut down. Director La Shon Wiggers said if the center closes, kids would suffer.

"We're not just babysitters. There's a full gamut of things that we do," Wiggers said. "We help them with their homework, we have programs that help them grow, help their self-esteem."

Wiggers said parents depend on the Palms Park Child Care Center because it's the only place to take their kids while they're at work.

Personnel Department Assistant General Manager Phyllis Lynes said 254 of the employees are members of the Coalition of Los Angeles City Unions, whose contract protected them from layoffs only in the current fiscal year.

She said the other two dozen employees are either members of other unions, such as the Engineers and Architects Association, or are not members of any unions.

City officials and union officials are still negotiating in an effort to avoid some of the layoffs. Some unions are refusing pay cuts and furloughs, so according to city council members, the only option left is to lay some people off.

"I recognize that it's not easy for families to have to make these sacrifices, but as I said, bankruptcy is not an option," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

This is only the first round of expected layoffs. They city has approved 761 layoffs for the fiscal year to try to balance the $465 million budget deficit.

Another 1,000 layoffs are planned on Oct. 1 if revenues from the lease of several city-owned parking garages and other sources fall short of projections.

City News Service contributed to this story.


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