Public employees across the country have been battling bruising attacks on their jobs and paychecks as cities and states sink into red ink. No more so than in California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger achieved through budget cuts what he couldn’t in state referendums voted down by voters in 2008, a drastic reduction in state services. Yet in Los Angeles, city workers—members of several unions—ratified a new contract that averts furloughs and layoffs. State employees in Pennsylvania and Kentucky also have good news after mobilizing successfully to protect their paychecks and turn back cuts in benefits.
The Los Angeles city budget, adopted in May, called for layoffs and 26 furlough days per worker—amounting to a 10 percent cut in services and pay for every city program and every worker. Since then, members of the Coalition of LA City Unions in Los Angeles overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the city that preserves city services and avoids layoffs and furloughs. The new agreement will save more than half a billion dollars over the next three years, primarily through a retirement incentive program and delays in scheduled wage increases. continue reading

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