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County OKs Health Benefits

November 22, 2003

Los Angeles County has settled another nagging labor dispute with its employees by agreeing to a health benefits package for 35,000 county workers, including sheriff's deputies and firefighters.

The three-year agreement, reached after 34 hours of negotiations, requires the county to largely cover increased health insurance costs next year. But in 2005 and 2006, workers would have to shoulder some additional costs if insurance premiums surge above 7.5% annually.

"We remain concerned about health-care inflation in the future," said Paul Roller, chairman of the Coalition of County Unions, which negotiated the contract for its 12 member unions. "However, we recognize that, in this economic environment, this is the very best agreement we could possibly reach."

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