Employees at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power earned average total pay of nearly $100,000 in 2011 -- more than 50% higher than the average total pay of all other city employees, a Times analysis of payroll data found.
That pay is also about 25% higher than that of employees at comparable public and private utilities, according to a report commissioned by the City Council last year.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents the vast majority of employees at the DWP, has made itself a key player and a central issue in the Los Angeles mayoral campaign by giving $1.45 million to an independent effort to elect Wendy Greuel. That has made the union by far the largest single source of cash in the race.
The DWP has released far less detailed and current data about employee salaries than other city agencies. This week, the union signaled it plans to go to court in an effort to further delay the release of salary information about individual DWP workers.
In 2011, the DWP's $99,381 average total pay — which includes salary, overtime and a wide range of other compensation such as unused sick and vacation time and cost-of-living bonuses — covered more than 10,000 department employees, from the highest-paid engineers to the lowest-paid temps and clerks, according to The Times' analysis.
The 2-year-old payroll snapshot showed General Manager Ron Nichols made $347,000. His five executive assistants averaged $198,000. Mechanics who install and repair power lines averaged $153,000. Service representatives who answer customer calls averaged $68,000.
The City Council-commissioned study last year found DWP workers received significantly higher compensation than those working at more than a dozen comparable utilities. Groundsmen and utility workers, for example, made 41% more and call center workers made 20% more, according to the report.
In February, The Times requested data showing what DWP employees made last year and how their pay has changed during the five years after the economic collapse. The Times requested — and received — the same data for other city employees.
After multiple delays, DWP officials were poised to provide the information Wednesday — three weeks before the election. But union officials notified the city attorney's office that they would seek a court order indefinitely delaying the release.
Such information is routinely made public by state and local governments across California, including the city of Los Angeles. In limited cases, courts have allowed the identities of undercover police officers and employees with restraining orders against violent stalkers to be withheld due to safety concerns.
DWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo said his agency eventually will release the payroll data, but only after administrators finish asking each worker if he or she has a reason to withhold the information.