Negotiators for Los Angeles County, County Employees Union Reach Agreement
After nearly 24 hours of negotiations, Los Angeles County officials and leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 660 -- the county's largest employee union -- on Wednesday reached an agreement that would preserve workers' health benefits and include wage increases, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the negotiated contract proposal, the county would pay for health care cost increases of as high as $40 million, or 28.2% higher than current rates, through 2006 for the union members, including 50,000 nurses, librarians, street repair workers and other county employees. If premium increases exceeded that amount, the contract could cover costs by using part of a 5% pay increase that workers would receive portions of in 2005 and 2006 under the agreement. However, the county also could cancel the workers' raises if it declared an "economic emergency," the Times reports. The new contract would retain workers' $5 copayments for doctor visits; the county had sought to raise copays to $10. "It's a share-the-pain deal," Jim Adams, the county's chief of employee relations, said. Bart Diener, assistant general manager of the union, said, "We drew the line, and we held it." The union and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors still have to ratify the agreement (Fox, Los Angeles Times, 11/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.