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Mayor wants 3-day work week for city services

April 6, 2010 12:20:48 AM PDT
With the city of Los Angeles quickly running out of cash, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calls for a shutdown of non-essential services for two days a week.There's no end in sight to the budget battle between the Department of Water and Power and the city of Los Angeles. So the mayor is calling for drastic action to cut back on services and jobs.

The mayor's proposal would affect nearly every city resident. It would hit departments like sanitation, parks and libraries. Public safety departments would be excluded. Unions say the mayor can't do it.

The proposed three-day work week would apply to all employees paid through the city's general fund. Thousands of city workers who make Los Angeles work would be included.

"I am asking the CAO [City Administrative Office] to develop a plan to shut down all general-funded city services, with the exception of public safety and revenue-generating positions, for two days per week beginning the week of April 12," said the mayor Tuesday.

The mayor's announcement was met by defiance from city workers and their unions. More than 20,000 workers affected by the three-day work week are covered by an agreement signed with the city. In return for concessions, members of the coalition can't be laid off until July 1.

"We will not allow the services provided by our members to the people of Los Angeles to be used as leverage in a political game," said attorney Victor Gordo, the secretary-treasurer for Laborers International Union North America Local 777, a member of the union coalition. "We would like to see a real plan."

The three-day work week was proposed after the Department of Water and Power decided not to give the city $73 million. It's money the city was counting on, money the DWP says it cannot do without.

"This is a business. It is owned by the city. It's, I think, maybe the most valuable asset in terms of money the city has, and you dare not let it go down the tubes. You won't want to," said DWP General Manager S. David Freeman.

That, simply put, is not something with which the city council agrees.

"When you have a billion dollars liquid cash, better situation than the entire city, and you're going to come here today and tell us they all of a sudden found they're in dire financial straits, none of us believe that," said L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks.

According to City Council President Eric Garcetti, there's good news ahead, that months of work paid off. He said that when they finish this fiscal year, the city's budget will be in the black.