DOWNTOWN : Workers to Protest County Cutbacks

Faced with the possibility of severe layoffs, county workers plan to hold a rally Monday outside the Hall of Administration on Temple Street to protest proposed county budget cuts, officials said.

"We are in favor of a realistic budget, but cutting jobs and services is only going to make problems worse," said Steve Weingarten, communications director for Local 660 of the Service Employees International Union.

Local 660, which represents nearly half of the county's 85,000 employees, is coordinating the noon event in hopes of raising public awareness about the county budget crisis.

Union representatives are concerned that the county could lose millions of dollars in revenue from the state, which in turn would force county officials to come up with an even tighter 1994-95 budget.

To meet an expected shortfall, the county is considering closing two of its six major hospitals and imposing across-the-board cuts in law enforcement, museum, library, parks and recreation and welfare services.

Weingarten estimates that as many as 15,000 county employees, nearly 20% of the work force, could be out of a job this summer. County officials said that it is too soon to say how many employees could lose their jobs, but that the figure could be that high.

As an alternative, union officials are proposing that the Board of Supervisors consider selling some of what they believe to be $22 billion to $40 billion worth of unused county property.

But that's only a short-term solution, said Elliot Marcus, director of labor relations for the county.

"There's a lot of considerations in there, not just selling the property, because what do you do next year?" Marcus said.

County officials plan to come out with a report Monday to determine how the final state budget will affect the county. Supervisors are scheduled to hold discussions on the county budget on Wednesday and Thursday.

For more information about the rally, contact Weingarten at (213) 744-8205.

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