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LA City Council President: No DWP deal by Friday

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Despite a threat from a union boss that a new contract with the Department of Water and Power must be in place by the end of the week, the president of the Los Angeles City Council said Wednesday that City Hall will move at its own pace. 

City leaders are negotiating a new four-year contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, which represents almost 90 percent of DWP employees. The new contract does not take effect until late next year, but IBEW boss Brian D'Arcy wants a deal now because the union's current contract includes a pay raise this October. Under the DWP's proposal, its employees would forego that raise until 2016, when they would be given a four percent bump.

d'Arcy told the Daily News he wants to see a new deal in place by Friday or else he will pull the offer to forgo raises. According to City Council President Herb Wesson, that's not going to happen. 

"We don’t adhere to any deadline that Brian would set," Wesson told KPCC. "In fact, I’m optimistic from here on out you won’t hear him talk about deadlines." 

"I haven’t indicated a direction as of yet, other than I feel that it is our responsibility to really dot every 'i' and cross every 't' because there are a significant amount of people that feel that this is an unbelievable deal."

d'Arcy was not immediately available to respond to Wesson's comments.

A report from DWP General Manager Ron Nichols and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana indicates the proposed contract could save the utility as much as $6 billion over the next 30 years. About $2.5 billion of those savings would come from a new pension tier for future employees that would allow the DWP to pay less money toward retirement benefits. 

However, one person who does not think this is "an unbelievable deal" is L.A's mayor. 

"Mayor Garcetti wants to see real reform on DWP salaries, pensions, healthcare, work rules, and the pay disparity between its workers and others who perform similar work for less compensation," said mayoral spokesman Yusef Robb. "This falls short. He was elected to bring real reform to DWP and that's what he will do." 

During the 2013 mayor's race, IBEW's political action committee, Working Californians, raised more than $4 million to support Garcetti's opponent, Wendy Greuel. 

Other highlights of the proposed contract include:

  • No cost-of-living adjustments until 2016 when workers would get a four percent increase.
  • A four percent contribution toward retiree healthcare and two percent contribution for active employees; right now they pay nothing.
  • Future employees would pay 10 percent toward their pension and retirement health care benefits.
  • Entry level salaries for 28 jobs would be lowered.
  • A doctor's note would be required for any illnesses exceeding three calendar days.

Negotiations have gone on for 16 to 18 months, according to Wesson. However, July saw a new mayoral administration and seven new members of the L.A. City Council. The council president believes a new deal must be in place by Sept. 1. 

Negotiations are being handled by the City Council's Executive Employee Relations Committee, which includes Garcetti, Wesson and councilmen Mitch Englander, Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz.

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