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LA's Message to Cities Across the Country: Collective Bargaining Works

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The City of Los Angeles has a message for Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and municipal and state governments all across the country: collective bargaining works. Yesterday, I stood with leaders from the Coalition of LA City Unions to deliver that message by announcing that we have reached a tentative agreement to save the City $400 million dollars over the next three years and do away with furloughs for 19,000 City employees.

This was a watershed moment for LA and cities across the nation.

Over the past few months, we have seen workers, teachers, librarians, police and firefighters, vilified as the source of our budget problems. Some states have even gone as far as outlawing collective bargaining in a misguided attempt to dismantle public employee unions.

As a former union organizer, my first instinct is always to walk the picket line with my brothers and sisters from labor. But as mayor -- as CEO of the City of Los Angeles -- I know that we have to balance our budget. We have to make structural changes. We have to put the City on a path towards fiscal sustainability.

And that is precisely what we did, together with our labor partners. Instead of pointing fingers and laying blame, we invited our employees to the negotiating table. We recognized that they are our partners -- not our enemies -- and that we can all agree on one thing: the current system of benefits is simply unsustainable.

In the end, working with labor, we reached an agreement that is a win-win-win for taxpayers, for employers, and for the City of Los Angeles.

The savings will be accomplished by enacting structural changes, including increased contributions to retiree health care plans, a suspension of cash overtime, and a shift of negotiated raises to the end of the contract period.

This agreement will help us better deliver services to all City residents -- without disruptions -- by ending furloughs for thousands of coalition-represented employees now and into retirement. Most significantly, the agreement recognizes that in these tough economic times, we all have a responsibility to shoulder our share of the burden