Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reiterated his hard-line position against strike threats from a municipal union, saying Tuesday the city has made a fair contract offer and cannot afford to pay more in uncertain financial times. In his monthly “Ask the Mayor” radio show, Villaraigosa said he believes the city cannot afford to pay more to the 8,000-member Engineer and Architects Association. “We are facing a $248 million deficit in this upcoming budget,” Villaraigosa said. “It would be irresponsible of me to offer more to this group of employees than we are paying other civilian units. “We have made a good offer – the same offer we made to other city workers – and I hope they submit it for a vote.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The EAA, which represents workers in a variety of areas including the city Airports, Harbor and Building and Safety departments, has voted to authorize a strike if the union does not get the same provisions as Department of Water and Power workers got earlier this year. That contract called for a 16 percent salary increase over five years – with an escalator clause that could increase it to 30 percent. EAA union chief Robert Aquino said the city has offered a contract with no salary increase the first year and 2.5 percent in each of the next two years. Aquino said Tuesday that the union will not back down. “We are going to ratchet this up,” Aquino said. “We are starting to build support among other city unions and we will not go away.” To make its point, the EAA has held a series of demonstrations including one at Los Angeles International Airport over the Thanksgiving Day weekend and a second Tuesday in front of the DWP building. But Villaraigosa said he doesn’t feel he can change the city’s position with EAA. The DWP contract was a separate case that had been negotiated by former Mayor James Hahn, Villaraigosa said. “I didn’t feel it would be appropriate for me to change it at that time,” Villaraigosa said. “This contract is a different issue.” Villaraigosa said it is a difficult decision for him because the EAA was one of the few city unions that backed his election. Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!