Los Angeles News
LOS ANGELES—Talks in regards to a new labor pact for Department of Water and Power workers are occurring between key figures involved in the negotiations, and significant stances are being drawn among the opposing sides of the debate.
The current deal offers a pay rise of 2 percent (down from an earlier proposed 4 percent) in October 2016 for DWP workers, marking three consecutive years of no raises. Pension benefits would also see a re-examination under the new pact. Furthermore, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a union representing about 90 percent of DWP workers, states that the proposal will save billions for the utility company over the next 30 years. IBEW reportedly spent about $2 million in a campaign against Garcetti during the mayoral election this year.
On Friday, August 16, the city council hosted an open hearing wherein the deal was presented before members of the public. The four-year DWP labor pact was seen favorably by the members of the city council, and approval on the deal is expected to be decided on by September 1. As council members assessed the pact, however, representatives from neighborhood councils and the public voiced their disapproval.
High utility bills are a source of frustration for ratepayers, when DWP workers reportedly earn among the highest rate of wages for workers in the city.
Mayor Eric Garcetti has publicly stated that he would not sign the deal as it was presented in the hearing. He claims that the proposal limits future amendments and avoids an extensive look into overlooked terms in the current DWP contract; new, recent modifications to the proposal address these issues. As a sign of his displeasure with proposal talks, Garcetti created a petition on his website entitled “Fix DWP!,” asking residents to demand “a contract that ends secret deals on costly work rules and perks.”
In a more aggressive move, Mayor Garcetti recently announced his appointments to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. Among those appointed are Jill Banks Barad, a member of the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce and Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, and Mel Levine, a former member of the United States Congress and California Assembly.
“I was elected with a mandate to reform the Department of Water and Power, and that’s what I am going to do,” said Garcetti in a press release. “These accomplished Angelenos will help me shake up the status quo at the DWP so we can save money for ratepayers.”
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