Eidtor’s Note: It is possible to reject a tentative agreement as the Metropolitan Water District Board did this week for the second time.
Is it too much to ask of the nation’s highest paid and most coddled elected city officials to stand up in public and tell their constituents how they can justify giving nearly 9,000 city workers nearly $30 million in cash and guaranteeing them pay raises of up to 4 percent for the next four years?
Common decency demands no less when the City Council takes up Item 29 today, a new five-year contract for Brian D’Arcy’s IBEW Local 18, the union that has more say over DWP policies than the public or the politicians.
This is the union that has kept the city from going green for more than a decade because the jobs are in dirty coal and gas power plants, not wind and solar energy. This is the union that spends millions of dollars to corrupt our elections and buy — or intimidate — our elected officials into doing its bidding. Or more precisely, union bully boy D’Arcy’s bidding.
And his bidding in these tough economic times when even city workers are losing pay or their jobs is to get DWP workers payoffs that are 5 percent greater than the cost of living, which is a negative 2 percent.
One of D’Arcy’s boys even does better, getting a check for nearly $60,000 for his years of selfless service as coordinator of the labor management committee, a group that encompasses some 800 DWP workers. The payment comes on top of his $110,000 annual salary as an electrician, a job he hasn’t performed in years.
In the language of City Hall, all this amounts to a saving for ratepayers, not a cost item.
“This is entirely an obligation of the Department of Water and Power and there is
no impact to the General Fund. Because the 3.25% is a cash payment rather than applied
to base salaries, retirement contributions are reduced by $69 million,” City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana wrote the Council on Dec. 7, surely a day of infamy.
Even that isn’t good enough for DWP General Manager David Freeman.
Just yesterday, he tattled on Santana’s underestimation of the savings of this sweetheart contract and wrote the Council he had “found incomplete and inaccurate information we believe needs to be clarified to the City Council.”
Freeman, a man who knows a lot more about spending other people’s greenbacks than about actually achieving green energy, offers this doublethink math of the “savings” under this contract:.
“The negotiated 2010-2014 MOU will save LADWP at least $181 million and depending on future CPI’s as much as $360 million compared to anticipated budgeted expenses.
“In reviewing the CAO report, the fiscal impact statement appears to be incomplete.
“While it captures the $69 million in projected savings from reduced LADWP
retirement contributions, it failed to state the projected savings of $99 million in lower
wages and $13 million in lower overtime costs that results from the negotiated
3.25 percent lump sum payment rather than 3.25 percent wage rate increase for the
MOU term 2010-2011.
“This $181 million dollars savings includes LADWP’s cost for the lump sum payment.In addition, while actual savings will be subject to future CPI amounts, the CAO’s
report omitted the additional projected savings of $179 million that would result from
a lower floor of 2 percent rather than the current 3.25 percent COLAs.
“These savings will come from reduced retirement, wages, and overtime expenditures
compared to LADWP’s approved financial plan for the next five years.”
I guess we should be thankful that the DWP’s long-term plans to double and triple our rates included such generous raises for employees that taking cash instead of a raise this year and maybe getting only 2 percent raises in the future amounts to saving money.
This is the way our city government operates, turning truth on its head and obscuring reality for the purpose of deceiving the public. It’s why the mayor declares this contract is “a gift that keeps on giving” although despite the “savings,” the cost of DWP pensions to ratepayers will soar from 30 to 70 cents for every dollar of payroll during the life of the contract.
Is it any wonder they bungle everything they touch?
Is it asking too much to expect each of the 14 Council members to stand up in public today
and defend the approval of this contract and explain how it benefits the people?