Mayor Eric Garcetti, a pro-labor Democrat, has tried to restore ties with Los Angeles’ public employee unions after most of them backed his opponent in the 2013 mayoral race. Nevertheless, the mayor is sticking with the hard line he has taken in contract talks: asking city workers to accept a three-year wage freeze, pay 10% of their healthcare premiums (many currently pay nothing) and accept a higher retirement age.
Garcetti has joined a growing list of Democratic mayors who have locked horns with their cities’ unions. This reflects a fissure at the heart of the urban Democratic coalition. Until the recession, public employee unions were its most powerful component. Since then, however, exploding compensation costs, especially pensions and healthcare, have forced some Democratic politicians to recalculate that alliance.
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