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Opinion

Opinion: Why was City Hall in such a rush to give DWP workers big raises?

Mayor Eric Garcetti, right, gives a friendly shoulder bump to Council President Herb Wesson in 2016.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, right, gives a friendly shoulder bump to Council President Herb Wesson at a June 2016 event in South Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: This line from the article is particularly insulting: “City Councilman Paul Koretz, who serves on the committee that negotiated the deal [giving thousands of Department of Water and Power workers six raises over the next five years], said he opted not to hold a committee hearing on the contract because he felt anyone who wanted to speak about the deal could do so at Wednesday’s council meeting.” (“Despite tough talk by City Hall in years past, DWP workers poised to get generous new contract,” June 27)

Two years ago, Koretz held a hearing on changing the city code to allow Los Angeles residents to own up to five cats. Apparently, he believes the number of cats that people in L.A. can own is worth more time and discussion to Angelenos than the latest power move by the DWP workers’ union.

Koretz is a genial, capabale policymaker. However, the decision by him and City Council President Herb Wesson to ram through this contract, which also provides free healthcare for these DWP employees, with the acquiescence of Mayor Eric Garcetti is unconscionable.

One would surmise that the giants who sat on the council years ago do not recognize the people who sit there now.

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Howard P. Cohen, North Hills

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To the editor: Bear in mind that it is not the “powerful” DWP union that is getting a raise. In fact, it is the thousands of men and women who work hard to provide the people of Los Angeles their power and clean water 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As powerful as this union is, it was unable to negotiate any pay raises for its members over the last three years. This doesn’t sound all-powerful to me. Plus, the 13% to 22% raise will take place over four years, making the annual increases much more modest. And remember that these employees, who have been faithfully providing L.A. with water and electricity, have received no raises at all over the last three years.

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The Times implies that the public has no say in this matter. Are you saying that the public is no longer allowed to attend and participate in City Council meetings? If this is true, it should be a front-page headline.

Owen Keavney, Pomona

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To the editor: Why is the city giving DWP workers multiple raises when the utility is not doing a good job?

We’ve seen numerous major water main breaks in the last few years, resulting in flooded streets and traffic nightmares. My neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills has lost power seven times in the last three years.

To reward DWP workers with big pay raises without demanding first that the city’s electrical grid be upgraded, that old water pipes be replaced and that the employees contribute to their own health insurance, is ridiculous. What are L.A. ratepayers receiving in exchange for this?

Wendy Dytman, Los Angeles

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