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DWP union members OK contract that delays raises to 2016

Workers with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's largest employee union have voted to ratify a new four-year contract that will provide no raises until 2016, officials with the labor organization said Wednesday.

Members of the 8,500-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18 voted more than 3 to 1 in favor of the agreement, union leaders said.

Brian D'Arcy, IBEW Local 18's top official, said the contract addressed "a number of substantive issues" at the city-owned utility. The agreement pares back the size of pensions that will be offered to future DWP employees.

"This contract makes sense and results in billions of dollars of savings for the city and DWP ratepayers," D'Arcy said in a statement. Workers had been casting ballots over the last three weeks.

The salary pact still needs votes from the City Council and from Mayor Eric Garcetti's appointees on the five-member DWP board, said City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the top budget official at City Hall.

The new DWP pact provides no pay increases for IBEW members until October 2016, when a 2% raise will be awarded. At the same time, the DWP will continue its practice of covering 100% of employees' healthcare premiums, despite calls for more progress on that issue from Garcetti. The new mayor secured mostly minor changes to the deal, which had been negotiated before he took office.

The DWP union was a major issue in this year's mayoral campaign, with various IBEW organizations spending $2 million to defeat Garcetti and elect his opponent, former City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Since the election, Garcetti has repeatedly called for "reform" of the DWP. On Wednesday, Garcetti said the deal represents "a dramatic shift away from the generous contracts of the past."

"This contract contains significant ratepayer savings and clears the way for the further reforms we need to ensure DWP is efficient and accountable," he said.

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Twitter: @davidzahniser

david.zahniser@latimes.com

 

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