Judge orders union to recognize Mayor's appointments to controversial board

LA Department of Water and Power building in Los Angeles.
LA Department of Water and Power building in Los Angeles.
Omar Bárcena

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A Los Angeles judge gave Mayor Eric Garcetti a win Friday in the fight over transparency and accountability at the Department of Water and Power. 

The morning court hearing focused on whether the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18 must recognize two trustees selected to oversee safety and training nonprofits funded entirely by the DWP with city money.

The Joint Training and Joint Safety institutes have not been able to meet because union representatives refused to acknowledge the appointment of Garcetti's attorney Richard Llewellyn and DWP Commissioner Michael Fleming.   The institutes are  jointly managed by trustees from the DWP and IBEW. 

An attorney for union boss Brian D'Arcy wanted to take the issue to arbitration. A judge denied that request.

This case is part of a larger fight over access to the trusts' financial records.  Backed by the mayor and city attorney, City controller Ron Galperin, has tried for months to audit $40 million DWP gave the groups over the past decade. The union's trustees have repeatedly fought off efforts to open their books. 

"With today's ruling, DWP trustees can take their seat at the table to make sure ratepayer money is not misspent," said the Mayor's spokesman Jeff Millman.

An attorney for the IBEW declined to comment and a spokesman was not immediately available to say whether the union would appeal the decision. 

The two sides will be back in court for a status update on Sept. 26.