LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Nearly 20,000 city workers voted to avoid more than a month of furlough days and will begin paying for their retirement healthcare for the first time, the Coalition of City Unions announced today.

“We voted with the best interests of Los Angeles residents in mind,” said Tim Butcher, a heavy duty Truck operator with the Bureau of Street Services. “The changes to our contracts will end furloughs immediately, and that means we can get back to work for the people of this city.”

Fifteen of the 19 bargaining units the coalition represents voted to approve the amendments to their contracts, which extend the contracts about one year until 2014.

Under the agreement, workers in the unit that voted to approve the deal will defer scheduled pay raises and begin paying 4 percent of their salaries to pay for healthcare if they retire after July 1. In exchange the city guaranteed full medical coverage including future premium raises.

The vote also averts 36 days of furloughs called for in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed budget released last week for those groups that ratified the agreement.

Four of the coalition’s employee units did not vote in favor of the agreement. Those workers, including deputy city attorneys, clerical workers and some engineers, still will incur any furloughs in the city’s final budget. They also could have their retirement medical subsidies frozen under a plan moving through the City Council. That plan has not been passed.