LA WATCHDOG - Over the last decade, campaign funding IBEW Union Bo$$ d’Arcy and his affiliates have “invested” over $6 million in the City’s political campaigns, including significant contributions in 2013 to Wendy Greuel and several members of the City Council.
The Bo$$ also helped to finance two ballot measures, both of which were rejected by the voters: Proposition A, the permanent half cent increase in our City’s sales tax, and the infamous 2009 Measure B, Mayor Villaraigosa’s Solar Plan that was a payback for previous campaign contributions.
So it is not surprising that Herb Wesson was pushing the City Council to approve a new four year contract between our Department of Water and Power and the IBEW that was negotiated behind closed doors without any input or feedback from Ratepayers, Neighborhood Councils, or the Ratepayers Advocate.
However, this deal was quickly derailed when The Los Angeles Times exposed that these backroom negotiations were being railroaded through the City Council and that Mayor Eric Garcetti was opposed to the new contract because it did not adequately address his campaign promises to reform the DWP’s compensation policies and its overly restrictive work rules that together cost Ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
After a flurry of meetings to address the many criticisms involving sick pay, overtime, excessive salaries and benefits, overstaffing, and work rules, including a Monday night meeting of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates where Garcetti addressed an audience of upset Ratepayers, the City was able to achieve additional “concessions” from the IBEW.
Under the new contract, DWP workers will defer a scheduled 2% cost of living adjustment on October 1, resulting in a cash savings in the first year of about $20 million plus a $4 million pension contribution. They will also defer another 2% to 4% bump at the end of the current contract in October of 2014.
The Department will also establish a new pension tier for all new hires that will increase the retirement age, eliminate spiking, and require new employees to contribute 10% of their compensation to their pension and retiree health care. While the benefits are more generous than the new pension tier imposed on the City’s newly hired civilian workers, it is an improvement over the current plan that will save approximately $4 to $5 million in the first year.
The DWP is also anticipating another $8 million in savings in the first year of the new contract by establishing 34 common job classifications with the City, reforming the sick day policy, and by reducing the contracting-out overtime premium.
Overall, cash savings are estimated to be in the range of $35 million in the first year of the new contract. This savings offsets the $25 million a year burden that is being footed by the Ratepayers as a result of the City saddling the DWP pension plan with $200 million of unfunded pension liabilities associated with the dumping of 1,600 surplus employees on DWP by our cash strapped City.
These cash savings are inconsistent with the City’s estimates of $456 million over the next four years and its $6.1 billion over the next 30 years. These differences in savings and the underlying assumptions need to be reconciled in an open and transparent manner.
Most importantly, Garcetti insisted on the establishment of a Joint Labor/Management Resolution Board (“JRB”) to review ALL existing work rules. The JRB would have the power to review and potentially amend work rules if they improve the efficiency of DWP’s operations.
Areas to review would include the benchmarking of DWP’s excessive salaries, its Cadillac health care plans, and all of its operations. The JRB would also have the right to review and analyze the impact of work rules on staffing levels, overtime, the outsourcing of noncore functions such as customer service, and other areas identified by the DWP Board of Commissioners, DWP management, the IBEW, the City Council, the Mayor, the Ratepayers Advocate, and the Neighborhood Councils.
The JRB must conduct its business in an open and transparent manner to offset campaign funding Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s political clout with Herb Wesson and the members of the City Council who have benefitted from the IBEW’s $6,000,000 investment in City Hall.
The next four months will be a significant time in our City’s history as Mickey Kantor’s LA 2020 Commission will issue its report on the City’s finances. At the same time, DWP’s operations will be under a microscope as it begins to reform its relationship with the IBEW.
Ratepayers elected Eric Garcetti. And now is the time that he needs our support as he begins to reform our Department of Water and Power and our City’s finances.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Hear Jack every Tuesday morning at 6:20 on McIntyre in the Morning, KABC Radio 790.)
Vol 11 Issue 69
Pub: Aug 27, 2013