Los Angeles Mayor
"I'm not going to do a deal before it's a good deal for the people of Los Angeles," Garcetti told reporters at City Hall. "Period. Full stop."
Brian D'Arcy, the DWP union leader who ran a ferocious campaign against Garcetti in the May election, has been trying for weeks to quietly gather support on the City Council for a new salary agreement.
On Friday afternoon, Garcetti, Council President
The powerful union, Local 18 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represents more than 8,200 workers at the DWP. The city's current contract with the union expires in the fall of 2014.
DWP workers receive about 50% more pay than other city employees, and 25% more than workers at other utilities in the region. Garcetti said he was concerned about that disparity and the pressure it creates for higher water and power rates.
"We know rates rise over time," he said. "But it shouldn't be because somebody's earning 40% more for doing the same work as another city worker."
He also said it was important to scale back the cost of DWP pensions and require employees of the utility to start paying a share of their healthcare coverage out of pocket.
"It's important for me to hold down salary increases as well, because that's the big driver," Garcetti said.
Under the deal, outlined in a memo obtained by The Times, DWP employees would forgo a scheduled raise of 2% to 4% that will otherwise take effect Oct. 1. They would also get no raises the following two years. In 2016, they would get a pay hike of up to 4%.
The proposal would not meet Garcetti's demand that DWP employees pay a share of their healthcare coverage.
For newly hired employees, however, the deal would provide lower retirement benefits than what current workers get. It would also require new hires to contribute 3% of their salary toward health coverage after they retire — up from zero for current employees.
The deal also includes a settlement of a 2010 lawsuit filed against the city by union representatives on the DWP's pension board. The suit alleges that the city improperly forced the utility to absorb at least $183 million in retirement costs when it shifted hundreds of workers onto the DWP payroll to help balance the general city budget that pays for police and other basic services.
"I don't feel that there's a gun to my head because of this lawsuit," Garcetti said. "I think we have a very strong lawsuit. And while I want to make sure that the people of Los Angeles get good deals, I won't be pushed or be in a hurry to close it."
Garcetti also said it was "critically important" to hold down pay hikes for all city workers.
"We do not have a strong economy yet," he said. "And I want to restore new monies into services – not into healthcare, pensions and salaries."