LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Los Angeles City Attorneys Association claims the city violated a collective-bargaining agreement by slashing public employees’ wages and benefits, laying off workers and forcing then to take unpaid days off – actions that will cost the city more money in the long run.
The plaintiff, an unincorporated labor organization, claims the city violated terms and conditions of employment laid out in a Memorandum Of Understanding, “(i.e., a public sector collective bargaining agreement),” and the terms of an October 2009 letter of agreement (LOA) between the city and a coalition of Los Angeles city unions.
“In order to alleviate the purported economic crisis presented by the city’s then existing and projected budget deficits, the labor organizations making up the coalition, including petitioner, agreed in the LOA to provide $77.8 million dollars in savings to the city’s General Fund during fiscal year 2009-10 by foregoing wage, benefit and working conditions guaranteed in their MOUs, through a combination of sacrifices, including deferring negotiated pay raises, accepting reductions in hours, and deferring payments pursuant to early retirement incentive programs, among other things. As part of their agreement to the LOA, the city and the coalition extended their MOUs through June 2014 and moved certain wage increases further into the future, which provided the city with salary relief and extended the benefit of the coalition’s concessions into the future,” according to the Superior Court complaint.
The union says that in return for these “extraordinary concessions,” the city agreed not to subject the coalition to layoffs or mandatory unpaid days off between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2011, unless it agreed to wage increases, retroactively if necessary.
But “As of July 1, 2010, the beginning of city’s 2010-11 fiscal year, respondent elected to lay off employees in coalition bargaining units,” the complaint states. “By implementing these layoffs, respondent voluntarily triggered the language of the LOA which advanced cost of living (‘COLA’) increases that had been extended by the LOA to future dates. …
“The cost of advancing the COLA increase voluntarily incurred by respondent as of July 1, 2010, was in excess of 50 million dollars and … this amount far exceeded the savings to respondent gained by any future reduction in wage liability that would be purportedly realized from the July 1, 2010, layoffs.”
The attorneys say the letter of agreement did not give the city the authority to enforce unpaid days off.
The attorneys union seeks to compel arbitration, under the terms of the labor agreement.
It is represented by Daniel Barth, with Levy, Ford & Wallach.
Neither the law firm nor the city would comment.