IBEW steps up pressure on Glendale to settle terms of new contract

About 65 Glendale Water & Power employees and their Los Angeles counterparts gathered at City Hall Tuesday night to send a message to the City Council: finalize our new union contract.

City officials and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 have been working for nearly nine months on a contract that would put about 170 rank-and-file Glendale utility workers under the Los Angeles union’s representation.

“We’re closing in on a lot of language, but the essentials are not there,” Martin Marrufo, assistant business manager with IBEW Local 18, said outside City Hall after he gave a pep talk to the workers.

The electricity workers and union members added to an already full chambers as the council prepared to discuss raising water rates to increase revenue for the utility, which has a $21-million deficit on the water side.

Councilman Frank Quintero took notice of the electricity workers and union members in the audience as the council discussed spending money on taping a city commission’s quarterly meetings.

“There’s people in this room tonight that have issues in terms of their wages and salaries and every little bit counts,” he said.

None of the workers spoke at the meeting, but their show of numbers was meant to be a message to the council, Marrufo said, adding that they may return if they don’t make progress on the contract.

City Atty. Mike Garcia said he could not comment on the closed-door negotiations.

“We want equality,” Marrufo told the workers Tuesday. “We’re not the child, we’re equals.”

Union negotiations began after years of conflict between Glendale City Employees Assn., the city’s largest municipal union, and a faction that had been pushing to join the IBEW. Hundreds of utility workers demonstrated on the steps of City Hall in support of new union representation two years ago.

The IBEW will be the fifth union to represent the city workforce.

--Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Twitter: @brittanylevine

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