LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — While a number of Angelenos have been called back to work in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a David Goldstein investigation found that more than 1,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have been allowed to stay home while still earning full pay.

A Goldstein investigation found more than 1,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees were being paid their full salaries to stay at home during the pandemic. (CBSLA)

DWP said the move was done to stop further spread of COVID-19, but unlike other city employees who have since been called back to work, 1,339 field crew employees — some of the highest paid in the nation — have been allowed to stay at home while still collecting their full ratepayer-funded salaries.

“It’s a complete giveaway of taxpayer dollars,” Jay Handel, of the West LA Neighborhood Council, said. “If that many people can stay home to stay safe, why do we need all of them?”

According to documents obtained by CBS Los Angeles, DWP has been paying workers to remain home on and off since April in what the department said was an effort to keep employees safe by not having too many working together on the streets or in the yards.

The number of employees at home changes every week, and crews are on call for the duration of their time at home.

As of Wednesday, DWP said 119 employees had tested positive for COVID-19, and department officials said keeping workers at home keeps the number of cases down.

“When we have one positive case, it can be three to a dozen people that actually have to be quarantined,” Rich Harasick, LADWP senior assistant general manager, said. “So, overall, when you don’t implement these measures, you have more people off getting paid as you will.”

But DWP seems to be treating its workers differently than other city agencies with a spokesperson for the L.A. Department of Public Works saying in a statement that all of it’s field crews were on normal duty, “in true form to their designation as critical frontline workers.”

“Not only is it wrong, but it’s a gift of taxpayer dollars,” Handel said. “These people need to go to work.”

After CBSLA started asking questions, DWP said that all of its crews would be back in the field as of next week, though they noted that could change if COVID numbers continue to rise.

Comments (6)
  1. David Goldstein says:

    You people do know when you say tax payer dollars its not tax money that pays ladwp

  2. Terry Campbell says:

    LA DWP nor any other public Utility operate on Tax revenue! They operate on Utility Rates, they collect monthly in your Utility Bill. Utility Rates are set to cover the cost to Operate the Public Utility without a profit. Those rates are approved by LA City Council, now you may want to investigate the City Council Franchise fees the LADWP pays yearly in to the City Treasury.

    Remember the Stimulus Bill Passed by Congress was designed to keep people employed! What do you think the impact would be if you laid off that many employees and the increas in unemployment insurance premiums would be on Utility Rates.

    Pull your Heads out of you no where!
    Terry Campbell, retired DWP Generation Operations Supervisor and currently Chairman of the Needles Public Utility Board

  3. Peter W. says:

    1 – The phrase, “Taxpayer dollars” is knowingly misleading here. The DWP is funded via utility rates. This is neglectful and dishonest reporting.

    2 – We’re talking about people’s lives. Goldstein is literally advocating for more people to be exposed to covid. He’s convinced he’s muckraking when really he’s sitting safely at home trying to put working people (and their family members) at higher risk of contracting coronavirus.

    3 – The answer to “why do we need all of these people if half can stay home?” is that the LADWP is literally in “keep the lights on” mode right now. As they should be. Important but non-urgent work is on hold so that people aren’t risking their lives unnecessarily.

    This is really shameful “reporting.”

  4. Melinda says:

    The workers are getting paid so that they can continue to pay for where they live and all their other needs. In other words, continue to contribute to the economy. The worst tax paid drain we have are trump’s frequent golf games. Nothing compares to that bill.

  5. Stacy Kennedy says:

    Why does the mainstream media advocate for shutting down businesses and the economy out of fear of spreading the virus then turn around and say that the 10% of the 10,000 workers of LADWP who are performing job functions from home should go back to their work stations?

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