Column: On the DWP, the offers hold getting sweeter


Greater than as soon as over time, when folks have complained about how arduous it’s to outlive in a low-wage economic system with such crippling healthcare prices, I’ve really helpful they apply for work on the Los Angeles Division of Water and Energy.

I used to be reminded just a few days in the past, as phrases of the brand new DWP contract had been revealed, that that is nonetheless stable recommendation. And there’s extra excellent news: the utility, by no means far faraway from scandal, is hiring.

In a narrative by Dakota Smith, The Instances reported that Mayor Eric Garcetti was backing a good-looking pay hike for water and energy staff after an 11-0 vote by the Los Angeles Metropolis Council.

The highlights:

Roughly 10,000 staff of the omnipotent campaign-donation manufacturing facility often known as Native 18 of the Worldwide Brotherhood of Electrical Staff will get raises starting from 10% to 24% over 4 years.

All staff will get 3% stocking stuffers as a money bonus.

On high of these will increase, 800 utility staff will get a further package deal of raises over the 4 years starting from 20% to 41%. In a single situation, some staff’ salaries might rise as a lot as 74%.

And as soon as once more, regardless of years of guarantees from Garcetti and others to demand worker healthcare contributions, going to the physician or hospital will proceed to be just about free for the overwhelming majority of staff.

A Garcetti spokesman mentioned the mayor believes “this contract will put the town in a powerful place to take care of and appeal to a talented workforce to ship our most crucial metropolis companies.”

However this is identical mayor who mentioned in 2013, after defeating IBEW-backed candidate Wendy Greuel, that DWP staff wanted to start out contributing to their healthcare prices. The mayor then held up a contract deal and did win vital concessions, however he wimped out on demanding healthcare contributions.

The identical factor occurred within the 2017 contract, when good-looking raises had been awarded, however the healthcare freebie remained in place. So in the course of the Garcetti reign as mayor, that’s strike one in 2013, strike two in 2017, and now strike three.

“It’s outrageous,” Jamie Court docket, of Shopper Watchdog, mentioned of the brand new contract.

“The worst a part of this deal,” mentioned former L.A. metropolis official Rick Cole, is that different metropolis unions “will wish to use it as their benchmark, and the town’s about to hit recession income shrink.”

To be honest, healthcare must be free or at the very least extra reasonably priced for everybody. However that’s a narrative for an additional time.

And I ought to say that not everybody thinks this new DWP contract is out of line. One motive is the competition that compensation is increased at different utilities, a few of which have enticed and poached DWP staff by dangling higher presents. That’s what Garcetti was getting at in saying this contract will “keep and appeal to a talented workforce.”

A DWP spokesperson, quoting his bosses, mentioned that of the 150 electrical line staff educated within the final 5 years, 70 left as a result of “our salaries weren’t aggressive.” The DWP says a whole lot of vacancies exist due to hiring difficulties, and that’s driving up additional time prices to take care of operations.

In the meantime, ratepayer advocate Fred Pickel instructed me he helps the brand new contract, based mostly partially on his analysis into pay packages supplied by competing utilities. Pickel mentioned the DWP is high of the heap in the case of healthcare protection, however while you consider pay, pensions and different advantages, DWP’s standing falls.

In charts Pickel offered, “LADWP falls across the median” in common complete compensation at $169,000, properly beneath the excessive of $230,000 and above the low of $118,000.

In base wage alone, DWP custodians make $60,000, painters make $90,000, steam plant mechanics make $107,000, water utility superintendents make $166,000 and electrical companies managers make $228,000.

However all these numbers, which aren’t dangerous to start with, will rise with the brand new contract. And healthcare will nonetheless be just about free, for many who select Kaiser, or near it for many who select different plans.

Given the rising personnel and retiree prices, which is able to come as LADWP confronts inexperienced power prices that will likely be within the tens of billions of {dollars}, you’d assume there would have been a strong public vetting of this new contract, which is able to value between $55 million and $111.8 million a yr.

Skeptics ought to have had an opportunity to grill DWP officers and demand particular examples of poaching. They need to have been in a position to ask whether or not a utility that had a comically egregious overbilling fiasco not way back and watched a current corrupt GM get hauled off to jail might be trusted to have competently negotiated the brand new contract.

One other honest query: How lengthy would possibly or not it’s earlier than ratepayers — who’re saddled with each their very own healthcare prices in addition to these of DWP staff — pay extra to activate their lights and taps.

However as Smith reported, the Metropolis Council — limping alongside within the wake of the current racism scandal — opted to not have a public listening to on the brand new pay package deal, identical to it opted out in 2017. And outgoing Councilmember Paul Koretz, who heads the personnel committee that might have challenged the deal, declined remark.

“This isn’t about protecting staff for the town,” Court docket mentioned. “It’s about payback for probably the most related unions within the metropolis and it’s a going-away reward from politicians who don’t have anything to lose.”

The IBEW political wing donated within the current election cycle to Councilmember Curren Value and incoming Councilmembers Traci Park and Tim McOsker. It additionally pumped greater than $1.4 million right into a political motion committee to help Mayor-elect Karen Bass.

You recognize the saying. The extra issues change, the extra they keep the identical.

If you happen to’re searching for work with good pay and primo advantages, run, don’t stroll, to the closest hiring workplace of the DWP.



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