COUNCIL TAKES FIRST STEP TOWARD DELIVERING ON MAYOR FOSTER’S THREAT TO LONG BEACH CITY WORKERSBy Dave Wielenga
Following through on a threat delivered by Mayor Bob Foster when he unveiled his proposed 2013 budget, the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday ordered the preparation of a ballot measure that would cut and limit the pay and benefits of the City’s non-public safety and mainly lower-paid employees. The vote was 6-2.
City Attorney Robert Shannon will draft the ballot measure and return it to the Council for further discussion. But even as he accepted the assignment, Shannon warned the Council that a such a referendum cannot be conducted until the completion of bargaining between City management and the City employees’ representatives in the International Association of Machinists (IAM). Those negotiation rights are guaranteed by the federal government.
The workers have more than a year to go on their current contract with the City, which the City Council approved in 2008—with the blessing of Mayor Foster.
But as Foster publicly laid out his proposed 2013 budget in early August, he just-as-publicly laid into the City employees represented by the IAM. After two years of his notoriously effective pressure, they are the only group of city workers that has not yet acceded to his demands for reduced compensation, Foster’s frustration was obvious.
“Each year of delay costs our residents $12 million in services and much more in future unfunded costs,” Foster told the Los Angeles Times. “If IAM continues to be intractable, I will place a pension measure on the ballot.”