Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Even as city workers rallied at job sites around the city to protest what they call cuts to municipal services, Mayor Eric Garcetti insisted Tuesday there has been recent progress in labor negotiations with employee unions.

“I feel we’ve made great progress last week at the table. There’s been real progress on substantive issues, and we’re going to continue there,” Garcetti told City News Service.

Garcetti and other city leaders have said they are seeking no raises, increased employee contributions to health-care costs and other concessions from the coalition of city employee unions, whose labor agreements expired in July.

“And I hope that’s communicated to members,” Garcetti said, referring to the progress he said the city is making wit the union, adding that the city “will manage in a fiscally responsible way and through any job actions.”

“We’re going to make sure that the workplace rules are enforced. People expect that city employees will do their jobs,” he said. “I have great faith in our city employees to do that.”

He would not say whether the city has made any headway on union concessions, but said “for the first time in weeks” there has been “real progress.”

“We still have a long ways to go, but … it’s not at a standstill, which it was for a long time. There’s actual movement now,” he said.

He added that the city is still not “out of the woods,” and even if “the economy is coming back, we still have more expenses than we have revenues, so we have to think creatively about how to save money.”

Garcetti’s comments came as Fix L.A., a group affiliated with the unions, is organizing protests with workers at more than 60 job sites.

Picketers, some waving giant Band-aids or wearing outfits festooned with trash at the City Sanitation Yard and the Dockweiler Beach Youth Center, alleged that the city has failed to adequately maintain city sanitation trucks, which could break down and become a public safety threat. They also contended that bad Wall Street deals have leached money from city coffers that could have been used to clean up storm drains.

“We have a strong message that we want the city to not pay the bank, to put that money back into the community, the residents of Los Angeles, and we hope the mayor will work with us on that,” wastewater sanitation worker Simboa Right told City News Service.

Protesters also picketed at the Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles International Airport, Department of Transportation building and Public Works offices to express their dissatisfaction with city leaders.

—City News Service

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