Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council: What happens if DWP workers strike?

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Contract negotiations between the city of Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power and the union representing its workerforce, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are ongoing but some on the inside are already asking: what happens if DWP workers strike?

A motion from Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Curren Price asks the DWP and city officials to report back in four months with an analysis of what would happen if the union's 8,291 employees -- 87 percent of the utility's workforce -- went on strike. A strike could only happen if IBEW Local 18's contract expires next June without a new agreement in place. 

Even though the current agreement does not expire until next summer, L.A. city leaders want a deal done by Labor Day in order to delay 4 percent cost-of-living increases scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1. 

The proposed contract on the table reflects "a generosity on behalf of the workforce to forgo an expected cost-of-living allowance," Cedillo said. "There will be a lot of expected anger, frustration, disappointment and that can turn into a strike." (Though presumably the COLAs would only be delayed with a new contract in place, thus avoiding a strike over that issue.)

Asked whether negotiations will continue for the next 120 days while the analysis is put together, Cedillo isn't making any predictions, "That's for others to determine. That's a higher pay grade -- that's not me."

During his 2013 campaign for city council, Cedillo had strong union backing including $89,135 from IBEW Local 18's political action committee. Price benefitted from the PAC's $72,383. 

Following Tuesday's city council meeting, Cedillo told reporters he was the one to bring up the word "strike."

"The mayor has an opportunity here to lead the city. He has the support of city council that wants to work with him and move this process forward, and he has an extraordinary offer," Cedillo said. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti has publicly stated he does not like the deal that's on the table in regards to salaries, pensions and benefits. His office declined to comment on the contract negotiations. 

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