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Outraged workers warn of layoff consequences

February 24, 2010 12:34:22 AM PST
Outraged city workers showed up at the L.A. City Council chambers to deliver an urgent message over proposed budget cuts, warning layoffs could have serious and dangerous consequences.City employees from different departments wore buttons that read "I love full-time work."

L.A. currently has a budget deficit of $212 million, and it's projected to grow in the next fiscal year to $485 million.

The city is looking to eliminate jobs to save about $300 million, but some city workers whose jobs may be on the chopping block want to have their say before the council. They say if they're not on the job, many services will suffer.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) says some branch libraries may be forced to close, affecting reading programs to children, and response times to police and fire could be longer with fewer mechanics serving their vehicles.

The layoffs would cut animal service employees, who investigate reports of dangerous animals, and parks employees, who keep parks clean and safe.

Gus Malkoun, a 24-year public works engineer, told the council that sewage could also become an issue.

"We don't deserve to be on furlough and laid off. We are willing to work with you to show you that there are millions of dollars misspent," Malkoun said. "If you lay off the young engineers ... and the community will start smelling bad odor."

The SEIU wants the council to prioritize the job cuts, and also said the council should stop using contractors.

Standard & Poor's downgraded L.A.'s credit rating on Tuesday after Moody's Investors Service put the city on its negative watch list last week.

"It's going to cost us millions of dollars more to borrow as a standard way of operating," said Miguel Santana, Los Angeles chief administrative officer.

Now, in order to generate $4 million, the city council has signed off on a plan to force dog owners to license their pets.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he remains confident that the plan to balance the budget will restore the city's fiscal health.