LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — LADWP union workers will see raises up to 22 percent over the next five years after the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday afternoon approved a new contract for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18.
The deal, which the city council passed by an 11-3 margin, gives the IBEW five straight years of raises and continue the practice of union workers not contributing toward their health care costs – a benefit not given to all city workers.
The new contract has been criticized as being too generous to the point that it could prompt other city unions to ask for raises, and for being fast-tracked to a vote.
The Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners, who are appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, only approved the deal last week after placing it on a special agenda with less than 24 hours notice. The contract is also skipping any dissection in a council committee while going straight to the full City Council for a vote.
Jack Humphreville, president of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition’s DWP Advocacy Committee, has been critical of the deal and the speed with which it is traveling through City Hall.
The contract would give six raises over five years for the IBEW Local 18’s 9,000 members at a rate of about 13 percent to 22 percent, depending on the consumer price index. It would also end the union’s $4 million controversial annual contribution to two nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, which have been heavily criticized due to a lack of transparency as to how they were spending and tracking the money.
The deal will cost an estimated $56 million annually, but will not impact the city’s general fund as it would be paid for out of adjustments to the LADWP’s budget, according to an LADWP commission memo.
When Garcetti ran for mayor in 2013, one of his chief issues was a promise to bring sweeping changes to the LADWP, which made him an enemy of the IBEW as it spent $2 million supporting his opponent, then-City Controller Wendy Greuel. Once elected, Garcetti blocked the approval of a four-year contract with the IBEW so he could renegotiate a new deal that resulted in no raises for the union.
The new deal is backed by Garcetti, but the mayor’s aides said it was not a template for future deals with other unions and the raises are needed to keep LADWP workers from leaving to work for other cities, according to the Los Angeles Times.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)