Carpenters: DWP $102,732; General Services 65,201; Airport $82,999; National Average $43,890.
Auto Painters: DWP $109,192; Fire Dept. $59,901.
Cabinet Makers: DWP $101,840; LAPD $66,449.
Garage Attendants: DWP $74,408; Airport $44,309; National Average $21,250.
Land-surveying Assistants; DWP $123,433; Public Works $73,009′ National Average $58,140.
Even when you know something is true like the fact that the LA Department of Water and Power pays its employees outrageous salaries because City Hall has given into blackmail by union bully Brian D’Arcy, it still is shocking to see the numbers — especially on a day when your about to get hit with yet another rate hike with many more to come.
Thanks to Bloomberg News reporters Christopher Palmieri and Rodney Yap, we have documentation today of just how outrageous the disparity is between DWP salaries and the salaries of other city workers for the same jobs and how inflated those city salaries are to what people are paid in the private sector who don’t get to retire at 55 with 75 percent of their highest pay as pensions.
“(The DWP) had the highest-paid public employees in the city,
earning on average 40 percent more than other municipal workers,
even those with identical job titles,” they reported..
“The utility’s 10,782 employees earned an average of $96,805
annually in 2010, the most recent year for which data was
available, according to compensation statistics provided by
state Controller John Chiang. The city’s 44,781 other employees
took home $68,822 on average.
“From nurses to prison guards, California public employees earn more than their counterparts in other states — even as it has grappled with budget deficits that forced layoffs of teachers and cut services for children and the elderly. In Los Angeles, water and power workers are paid more than their city counterparts because of the political clout of their union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.”
Water and power rates have soared under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city’s take of “surplus” electricity revenue leaped 60 percent, yet the mayor and City Council have seen fit to grant pay hikes of up to 5.9 percent to DWP workers and continued to give them raises of about 3 percent a year, increasing the disparity in pay with other city workers and putting this privileged class in a league of its own.
“They have money and leverage and it shows. The union gets what it wants,” said Robert Stern, the long-time head of the Center for Government Studies.
Added LA Watchdog Jack Humphreville, head of the DWP Advocacy Committee for Neighborhood Councils, who recently wrote an article urging City Hall to stop using the DWP as a “candy store”: “They are viewed as the Cadillac. All the other unions say, ‘We want to
be paid like the DWP.’”
We learned a couple of years ago when the mayor and council dealt with the massive budget deficit by cooking the books instead of solving the problem that the 1,400 janitors, gardeners, secretaries and clerks transferred from other city jobs to the DWP that they were getting raises of up to 50 percent rather than being laid off.
Bloomberg’s story was timed for the Council vote today on a 2.9 percent water rate hike, the start of a new round of DWP increases.
Clearly, Rate Payer Advocate Frederick Pickel — appointed barely a week ago 11 months after voters overwhelmingly supported creation of the office — has not had any input in this rate hike.
Jan Perry, the lone voice for rate payers, tried to stall approval of the rate hike last week but couldn’t even get a second to her motion calling for Pickel to have time to study DWP’s operational costs.
“The general manager of the department needs to know that the City Council will support him in his cost-reduction efforts,” Perry said. “If this body cannot demonstrate that we will support him in mitigating rate increases by reducing operating costs, then we are going to
continue on this path without end.”
That kind of talk won’t help Perry get campaign money from the IBEW which comes in third for political contributions behind the Police Protective League and AFL-CIO unions — a point worthy of note since the Council endlessly whines about how limits on campaign contributions should be raised or even eliminated because the US Supreme Court has barred limits on corporate contributions, something that is hardly a factor in LA elections.
For his part, Pickel sees himself as an analyst, not an adviser, and intends to study capital costs, deferring labor and other operational costs far into the future. In other words, he will clear the way for rate hikes long before he does anything about reducing other costs.