L.A. Officials Reach Deal with Firefighters amid COVID-19 Budget Crisis

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles city officials announced today they struck a tentative deal with the L.A. firefighters' union to avoid layoffs and temporary closures of fire stations and amid the city's budget crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Firefighters of Los Angeles City agreed to delay firefighters' scheduled salary increase by 18 months, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Nurty Martinez announced.

The delay, expected to save millions of dollars, will protect jobs and services and prevent the city from imposing temporary closures of fire stations, Garcetti's office said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated Los Angeles' economy, and we asked our firefighters to help us protect critical emergency services by deferring their scheduled raises,'' Garcetti said. “We have reached a tentative agreement with UFLAC that, along with the deals we reached with civilian unions this week, will help us avoid harmful layoffs and deep service cuts. I'm grateful for their collaboration, and I hope other bargaining units follow this example and come to the table during this difficult moment.''

UFLAC President Capt. Freddy Escobar said the deal will help the city recover from an unprecedented crisis, while being fair to the union's members, who have been on the frontlines.

“The coronavirus has ravaged our country and families throughout our city. Los Angeles is the epicenter of this pandemic and our firefighters and paramedics on the frontlines see this devastation every single day,'' he said.

“Most importantly, this agreement will maintain essential LAFD resources and ensure that the people of Los Angeles will continue to receive the first class lifesaving services that they expect and deserve.''

Martinez also thanked firefighters during the deal's announcement Thursday, not only for their service during the pandemic, but for helping the city in its effort to solve the budget crisis.

“During this pandemic, we've seen our city employees embody the meaning of 'public servants' beyond anything we have ever seen in our lifetimes. Thanks to them, our city continues to move forward despite the devastation of Coronavirus. They saved us throughout the last year and when called upon to help solve our city's pandemic-driven fiscal crisis, they stepped up and saved us again,'' Martinez said.

On Tuesday, city officials announced they reached a tentative deal with the city's non-sworn employees to avoid layoffs. A deal with the Los Angeles Police Department's union has not yet been announced.

The layoffs were proposed by City Administrative Officer Richard Llewellyn in December as a way to keep the city financially stable. The budget report recommended laying off nearly 1,900 employees.

Photo: Getty Images

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