DWP union fights salary release; mayoral candidates trade blame

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel chat before they square off in a debate.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

As lawyers for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees’ union fine-tune a proposed lawsuit to delay release of their members’ names and salaries, both candidates for mayor are calling on the department to make the information public as soon as possible.

The candidates -- City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti -- also spent Thursday morning blaming each other for the fact that, as of 2011, DWP employees made an average of $99,381, or about 25% more than their counterparts at other public and private utilities.

In a press release, Greuel said, “Despite his attempt to point fingers at others, Eric Garcetti is responsible for the DWP’s lofty salaries, huge raises, and bloated pensions. As City Council President, Eric Garcetti negotiated and voted for LADWP’s contract.”


In a press conference a few hours later Garcetti said the high pay of DWP employees, whose union backs Greuel, “illustrates what’s at stake in this election: a mayor in the pocket of the DWP union or a mayor who is committed to representing all of Los Angeles -- ratepayers, taxpayers and residents alike.”

Garcetti and Greuel both voted in favor of large raises for DWP employees in 2005, when they served together on the council. Garcetti voted for raises again in 2009. Greuel was city controller by then, so she did not have a vote.

“I think we’ve all owned that,” Garcetti said of the raises. He said if he’d known then what he knows now about the looming recession, he would not have voted for the raises.

Greuel, who has received the DWP union’s endorsement, said that the employees’ current pay and benefits information should be publicly released promptly. The union has contributed $1.45 million to an independent group that supports her election.

“I believe that when you work for the department, whether it is Water and Power or the city of Los Angeles, that is public information,” Greuel said.

The DWP union has drafted a lawsuit against the agency’s commissioners to prevent them from complying with a Los Angeles Times request for five years’ worth of detailed payroll data.


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