Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has struck a deal with a coalition representing about 19,000 workers that will force them to pay 4% of their income toward their health and retirement benefits in exchange for a three-year moratorium on furloughs, as well as an end to existing furloughs, according to the L.A. Times. The mayor expects all city employees to pay more for their benefits, including police and firefighters. He hopes that his threats, will force other city unions to follow. Those who do not cooperate will have additional furloughs and layoffs imposed on them.
Union leaders told members they had no choice and acted as if they were making concessions to armed terrorists. Others asserted that their members were willing to “share in the sacrifice” without actually surveying them. In reality, the unions have several choices, the most obvious being to say “no” and to back it up with job actions. Workers might very well support a job action, too. In reality, they are not being asked to “share in the sacrifice,” but to take it on entirely. A 4% pay cut to someone making $50,000 per year means a lot more than it does to someone making $1 million or more per year, yet the wealthy are not being asked to make any sacrifices at all. Considering that there are close to 25 billionaires in Los Angeles, it ought to be quite easy to turn its deficit into a whopping surplus if the mayor had the balls to levy a greed tax, or simply increase the city’s business taxes.