Council rejects cuts in benefits for union workers
COMPTON—The Compton City Council has rejected a budget amendment that would have cut union benefits and saved the city $1.2 million, plunging the city budget back into the red.
The final tally had Mayor Eric J. Perrodin and Councilwoman Lillie Dobson voting yes, while Councilwomen Yvonne Arceneaux and Janna Zurita abstained, along with Councilman Willie Jones. A budget amendment requires four votes to pass.
Union leaders attending the meeting continued to press the city to return to the bargaining table and reinstate the employees who were laid off in August. Perrodin dismissed the idea of restarting negotiations with the coalition.
The vote, regardless of the outcome, leaves the city facing additional debt in the general fund. Layoffs are being considered as a possible solution.
“This is a resolution to pull out the concessions made by the unions during the budget process,” City Manager Willie Norfleet said. “They included dental insurance at the HMO rate, one year of vision insurance, seven floating holidays, firefighters’ sacrifices, auto allowances and overtime totaling $1.2 million in budget savings. Those concessions are being put back into the budget, meaning we do not accept any union concessions.”
This prompted questions from Arceneaux about the ramifications if the council failed to pass the resolution. “The unions made a proposal that was contingent upon no layoffs,” City Attorney Craig Cornwell said. “There were layoffs, so those items cannot be unilaterally inserted into the budget.”
Perrodin reminded everyone that the resolution will remain dormant if it does not pass. The impact to the budget, he said, still needs to be dealt with.
“We will still have a deficit, and if we do not amend the budget, there will be additional ramifications,” he said. “This vote cleans up the paperwork from the rescinded concessions made by the unions.”
Jones agreed, and read from the resolution that until the city receives signed concessions from the coalition, they cannot be appropriated in the general fund budget.
“The unions agreed to the concessions if there were no layoffs,” Perrodin said. “Once layoffs occurred, they came off the table. We have to remove that money from somewhere else in the budget.”
Norfleet did not have an answer when asked where the $1.2 million being added to the budget could be cut.
Perrodin said the only concessions that can be removed from the budget are overtime and auto allowances, which are discretionary and not contractually obligated.
“We have cut back expenses as far as we can,” Perrodin said in comments after the meeting. “We are going to have to lay off more people.”
He did not have any estimates about how many additional employees might be laid off or when the layoffs would occur.