City Appears Close to Deal With DWP Workers

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, City News Service

A proposed Department of Water and Power labor deal that would narrow sharp disparities between utility and city worker salaries, as well as affect ratepayer utility bills, appears close at hand, city leaders said Tuesday.

The revised terms are aimed at bringing the DWP labor union closer together with the demands of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has rebuffed previous contract terms and is one of the final hold-outs among city elected officials on the deal.

Still, despite the projections a tentative deal would be reached Tuesday, more than a dozen council members emerged from a two-hour-plus closed door meeting tight-lipped and short of a decision.

Council President Herb Wesson said after the meeting he did not “want to jinx” the negotiations, but indicated optimistically that “at this point, I feel we are real close,” with a few issues left that “need to be ironed out.”

Wesson said he has been in “constant communications” with Garcetti, adding he would be texting the mayor with an update.

Garcetti, who on Tuesday was in the midst of a two-week long mandatory training with the U.S. Navy Reserve, did not react publicly to the new terms.

His spokesman, Yusef Robb, said the mayor’s office is “reviewing the language that’s on the table to make sure it achieves Mayor Garcetti’s goals on DWP reform.”

“Clearly, there has been important progress driven by Mayor Garcetti’s insistence on further DWP reform,” he added.

In recent days, Garcetti — who has said he would not sign a previous version of the proposed deal — has softened his criticism of the terms proposed by representatives of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, a powerful city union that raised more than $4 million to support his election opponent, Wendy Greuel.

Garcetti said he appreciates the savings that would come out of the union’s proposal to freeze wages for the next three years and to delay an Oct. 1 raise to 2016, but he pressed against work rules, such as policies for sick leave pay, overtime and bonuses, that he says are expensive and prone to abuse.

In a private memo to the City Council, dated Tuesday, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, laid out revised terms of a “tentative agreement with the IBEW chief negotiator” that includes locking down the 2016 cost-of-living raise at 2 percent, which would be tied to the projected August 2013-level of inflation.

This would prevent any cost-of-living raises to jump higher if the inflation rate increases four years from now. This could save the city another $10 million over the next four years, according to Santana.

Other revised terms include reducing the entry-level salaries for 34 positions common between DWP and the city, instead of the 28 that were previously proposed, saving an added $5.4 million on top of $10.7 million.

A third revision would grant the City Council and the mayor more power to negotiate DWP workers’ “terms and conditions,” such as “compensation, salary inequities, bonuses, overtime, other supplemental pay, pay codes, and working rules.” The revised terms include a specific reference to review salary disparities by Sept. 30, 2014.

 

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August 22, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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