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Wendy Greuel faces questions on pensions, labor support

March 20, 2013|By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times

Labor support and pensions for city workers continue to be a key issue in the Los Angeles mayoral contest, as Wendy Greuel faces fresh questions about her backing from public-employee unions and her stance on a City Council vote last year to trim retirement benefits for new workers.

Greuel has long criticized rival Eric Garcetti’s City Council vote to roll back pension benefits for new hires without engaging in collective bargaining with city worker unions. Recent statements that she would push to reopen talks with labor over the decision have raised concerns among some of Greuel’s pro-business backers. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday called on Greuel, the city controller, to appear personally to explain her position.

Also on Tuesday, Greuel accepted the endorsement of the 600,00-member county Federation of Labor, a union umbrella group that fought the pension changes. The controller also backed off an earlier suggestion that she wanted a new round of negotiations over the pension cuts, saying Tuesday she simply wants to meet with labor leaders to discuss ways of avoiding a lawsuit over the matter.

Columnist Steve Lopez talked to voters in the San Fernando Valley who say Greuel’s labor backing is costing her support in the key, voter-rich region.

Meanwhile, Garcetti and Greuel continued to rack up new endorsements, with Garcetti earning the support of council members Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian, and Greuel picking up the backing of Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Monica Garcia and newly elected Los Angeles Community College Trustee Mike Eng.

Garcia, who won reelection to the board this month, faces a new challenge as a majority of her board colleagues voted to limit the number of consecutive years a board member can serve as president.

The first debate of the runoff occurs Wednesday night -- in the city attorney race. Incumbent Carmen Trutanich will face off with Mike Feuer at a downtown meeting hosted by the Italian American Lawyers Assn. and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise. Feuer on Tuesday also picked up the endorsement of the county Federation of Labor.

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

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