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Employees' contract looks like a fair shake

November 06, 2010

That the main city employees union got a 1.5% pay cut on Tuesday despite members' strong opposition wasn't for lack of trying.

There they were, a mass of red T-shirts on the television broadcast of the City Council meeting Tuesday, as one by one members of the Glendale City Employee's Union took the podium to tell of how a 1.5% pay cut would not only harm morale and the ability to attract high-quality applicants, but even dissolve household budgets and fertility treatment plans.

But the City Council held its ground, voting to impose the pay cut and create a two-tiered retirement system for new hires that includes higher employee contributions to health benefits and pension plans. They did so under the weight of ever-climbing pension costs for employees as revenues through property and sales taxes continue to come in lower than expected.

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But given what's going on in Los Angeles and other cities, where workers who've managed to keep their jobs are under perpetual threat of losing them, the imposed contract — which came after failed negotiations and impasse — seems like a fair shake.

And since the contract is imposed, who's to say the City Council couldn't have pushed for more austere conditions? That it stopped at 1.5%, and not 3% or deeper, shows at least some restraint from shoving a tall order down the union's throat.

That may be hard for the members to process, but considering the region's unemployment rate is hovering at or near double digits, to them, a 1.5% salary cut with the promise of health care and benefits probably sounds like a pretty good option.

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