Wednesday, August 03, 2005

LA Agency balks at Union contract

The commissioners of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power decided in favor of ratepayers when weighing their proposed labor contract.

In a surprise move, the board declined to act on the new contract. That decision could shunt the controversy to Villaraigosa, who is on the verge of naming his own commissioners to the board.

The mayor's spokesman, Joe Ramallo, conceded Tuesday that the issue may end up in the mayor's in-box.

"Should this come before the mayor's appointees, they will thoroughly review it and consider it," he said, noting that Villaraigosa "is concerned about whether the pay raises can be fiscally sustained."

The union that represents the workers and negotiated the contract was one of the few that backed Villaraigosa during the campaign, and political observers have wondered how he would handle the conflict between his promise to cut city expenses and the union's high wages.

The proposed contract extension would boost the salary of DWP workers at least 17% and as much as 34% over five years, an increase significantly more than what other unionized city workers receive.