Tuesday, August 02, 2005

DWP union contract under scrutiny

The Los Angeles Department of Water and power already has some of the lowest rates around, so it can afford to pay its workers more, or so the logic goes. But that might not fly at City Council.

To the chagrin of the city unions, the Department of Water and Power has agreed to give its 8,000 union workers a minimum 16.25 percent pay hike worth nearly $69 million over the next five years but the increases could balloon to 30 percent if inflation rises.

The proposed amendment to the existing memorandum of understanding with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 18, goes to DWP commissioners for consideration today. It would require City Council approval.

The deal would automatically bump DWP employees' salaries up at least 3.25 percent each year on Oct. 1, and more if inflation is higher, to a maximum of 6 percent a year. The agreement could be reopened if both parties agree in either of the last two years of the deal.

The DWP's union is the only one in the city that for about a decade has negotiated contracts whose salary increases are tied to the consumer price index, said City Administrative Officer Bill Fujioka.

The city's civilian work force is in the midst of a three-year contract with a total of 6.25 percent in salary increases.

Julie Butcher, general manager of Service Employees International Union, Local 347, accused city officials of falsely claiming there wasn't more money for raises and vowed to take whatever action is necessary -- including calling a strike -- to get equitable treatment for her members.