The prospect of losing work time - and pay - has been tossed around as the unpleasant alternative to an agreement with the public employee unions that would require members to contribute towards their health insurance for the first time. Trouble is, many city workers are already exempt from the furloughs. So what's the incentive to pay for health care? From the LAT:
Some departments, including the Los Angeles World Airport and the Port of Los Angeles, are exempt from the furloughs imposed over the last two years. So are police officers, sanitation workers, librarians, zookeepers, streetlight workers and parks and recreation employees who either are considered too crucial to remove from their posts or are paid from funds that cannot be raided to balance the budget. That situation explains why a relatively few employees have called on their co-workers to reject the deal struck by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and leaders of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents six labor groups. City leaders "continue to give exemption after exemption to all these people," said Paul Castro, a 13-year City Hall employee who opposes the new agreement. "[At] the harbor, the airport, they're not going to be furloughed either way. Why should they make this sacrifice?"
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has ballyhooed the health care deal as a major development in the battle to reign in retirement costs. This furlough loophole provides more evidence of just how hollow that claim is.