Los Angeles City Council members Wednesday approved a new contract with the union representing deputy city attorneys that gives no pay raises through 2016 and requires a bigger contribution toward healthcare costs.
Under the three-year pact, approved 10-0, deputy city attorneys will for the first time pay a portion of healthcare premiums, about 10%, and also pay more toward the cost of retiree healthcare.
Current employees now pay about 7% toward the cost of retiree health coverage.
In addition, the city restructured pay scales, lowering starting pay $2,000 to $73,300, and removed four top pay steps. It will also take longer to reach the top pay scale of $172,000.
Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana called the agreement a "very good deal for the city." City leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, have set a goal of making employees pay at least 10% toward their current healthcare plans and to contribute towards retirement coverage, he said.
A December pact with the Department of Water and Power's largest union achieved that goal and similarly included no pay raises. Santana said a projected $242-million deficit next year will grow larger if pay raises are granted.
The city will begin negotiating next month with the Coalition of LA City Unions, which represents about 60% of the city's workforce.
Wednesday's agreement didn't leave the city's 425 deputy city attorneys completely empty-handed.
The city agreed to pay a $6,275-per-attorney "professional development" stipend for each year of the contract. Santana said the city has provided funding for professional activities in past contracts, but the amount changes each time.
"The goal here is to try to get them the best training so they can be as effective as possible in representing the city,'' he said.
In a related action, the deputy city attorneys' group agreed to settle two lawsuits brought against the city over forced furloughs and retiree health costs. In return for dropping the suits, the city agreed to pay $335,000 in attorney's fees spent by the union and to promote 75 lawyers whose advancement has been frozen by budget cuts, Santana said.
He said the net cost of the labor pact and the lawsuit settlements was $5.9 million. The contract will take effect a month after the mayor signs it and is effective through July 2016.
Deputy city attorneys now on average are paid $170,000, he said.