LA Council Questions Rush to Raise DWP Pay

(Council members Mike Bonin and David Ryu, and DWP general manager David Wright seen at today's meeting - LA City images)

Some members of the Los Angeles City Council questioned administrators Wednesday about a sudden push to quickly approve a new five year labor agreement with most Department of Water and Power workers -- a contract that includes significant raises but no requirement employees contribute to the cost of health care premiums.

Then the Council voted 11 to 3 to approve the new contract.

"This process stunk," said Councilman Joe Buscaino, who said he learned the initial details of the contract through media reports.

"This process is an erosion of the public trust," said Councilman David Ryu, who asked why the contract proposal had not been subjected to hearings and review by Council committees.

"There's just too much unanswered for me," said Councilman Mike Bonin.

The contract was given initial approval by the DWP's Board of Commissioners last week. 

It provides annual raises over the five year agreement with special pay enhancements for certain classes of workers.

The DWP has said those perks were needed to retain employees in those categories who are often recruited by other utilities.

The agreement also eliminates direct public funding of two trusts largely controlled by the DWP employee union, the IBEW. 

The Joint Training and Safety Institutes had received more than $40-million over the last decade and the union resisted City efforts to understand what the trusts had done with the money.

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