Readers React

Right-wing alarmism over DWP rates and worker pay

To the editor: It would be great if there were simple solutions to complex problems. Unfortunately, the article calling on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to reduce worker pay instead of boosting rates seeks to scapegoat blue-collar workers for problems that developed from decades of underinvestment in our vital public infrastructure. ("DWP ratepayers may get soaked again," op-ed, March 30)

The author feigns concern for low-income customers of the DWP in a veiled attempt to sell the same antiworker rhetoric that we've heard for years.

The truth is the DWP rate increase is being driven by the need to repair aging infrastructure and transform the water and power supply, not worker pay. Those costs are mostly capital costs, with employee pay constituting a relatively small percentage of the utility's budget.

It is no surprise that the research in the article was supported by the Nevada Policy Research Institute and the California Policy Center, two right-wing, antiworker think tanks. Among other things, the NPRI opposes Nevada's minimum wage and wants to reduce income support for poor families.

Meanwhile, IBEW Local 18, the public sector union for DWP workers that the author seeks to malign, has supported the creation of middle-class jobs, worked to raise wages for workers and has partnered with management to develop a model jobs program that is creating pathways to DWP careers for entry-level workers from struggling communities across Los Angeles.

Jessica Goodheart, Los Angeles

The writer is director of the Repower L.A. Project for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.

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To the editor: Has it never occurred to the DWP's critics that the utility's employees are not overpaid, but that those they are compared with are underpaid?

Robert Fellner admits that living on a wage of $30,000 in Los Angeles is difficult, but he cites federal government data on the average pay for security guards ($26,640) to show how overpaid the DWP officers are.

The DWP provides my household with virtually uninterrupted water and power for less than $2 a day, a bargain and hardly a sum to indicate that the workers' pay should be reduced.

Charles Bloomqist, Venice

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