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Why Your DWP Bills Keeping Going Up and Up — IBEW Salaries Keep Going Up and Up and Away

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.

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16 Responses to Why Your DWP Bills Keeping Going Up and Up — IBEW Salaries Keep Going Up and Up and Away

  1. MissAnthrope says:

    “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.”
    Look who appointed Pickel and who approved him for this post, and don’t forget the first words out of the sleazy mayor’s mouth upon Pickel’s appointment. It went something like this: This will pave the way for rate increases.
    Therefore, why bother with a sham of waiting for Pickel’s first report. Rate hikes are a done deal, so let’s get it over with and start now.

  2. MissAnthrope says:

    “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.”
    Look who appointed Pickel and who approved him for this post, and don’t forget the first words out of the sleazy mayor’s mouth upon Pickel’s appointment. It went something like this: This will pave the way for rate increases.
    Therefore, why bother with a sham of waiting for Pickel’s first report. Rate hikes are a done deal, so let’s get it over with and start now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Highway robbery.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why did I go to college and graduate school for a professional degree when I could work for the DWP with a high school education, visit strip joints and liquor stores on work time, and retire with a gold plated pension?

  5. Anonymous says:

    One reason why I moved out of city of Los Angeles. The city is way over there head. I was renting a small 2 bedroom house in the the city of la from 2006-to 2009. My bill every other month would be easily over $200 and that was with moderate use. I bought a house in the san gabriel valley and even though I receive a monthly bill from edison I am only being charged on average $45 not including water. When you receive your edison bill it’s to the point what your being charged. DWP looks like a cell phone bill, charge after charge with no end in sight.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Where is all the money coming from that DWP is giving as rebates to businesses who are changing all their light bulbs to more energy efficient ones. Our entire building switched over by a contractor and said DWP is giving the company a lot of money for applying for the rebates. Is this the reason our rates are being increased?

  7. The opaque, super secretative Executive Employee Relations Committee (the “EERC”) is responsible for theses massive increases in personnel costs. And leading the charge on the EERC were Villaraigosa, Garcetti, and Zine.

  8. WOW!!! Eli Broad may become a DWP auto painter says:

    No, wonder my DWP can run $1,200!
    $109K for a person to paint an auto body? Are these numbers right?
    What jackasses on the City Council okayed these salaries? Oh yeah, Garcetti, the Council Prez, who now wants to be mayor!

  9. Anonymous says:

    ha-ha-ha suckers Enjoy your elected “officials”

  10. anonymous says:

    As criminal as this seems–at what point is it criminal enough to warrant some court action?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I remember reading a Daily News article that stated 125 upper management DWP employees were making well over $125,000. City Council also voted to approve giving the general managers a couple million back pay a couple years ago. Then you have the $$$$ they gave David Nahai AFTER he left. DON’T FORGET AUSTIN BEUTNER WAS DWP General Manager now he thinks he’ll be a better Mayor. And did Jan Perry VOTE for the increase as she has been saying she wouldn’t? What a mess that we the people have to end up paying for.

  12. Anonymous says:

    While some of this info is not incorrect, it is being presented in the wrong way to determine the proper focus of attention. This is very common whenever DWP is discussed. It is similar to LAWA in this respect.
    1. DWP rates are among the lowest in the state. This is a fact. This will have to go up as DWP endeavors to rebuild its aged power infrastructure. Let’s focus on auto painters making $110K. We can agree that is not right.
    2. DWP was the only utility in CA to make 20% renewables by 2010. A very expensive proposition.
    3. DWP salaries MUST BE COMPARED TO OTHER UTILITIES. Not other City owned departments. DWP is a utility that happens to be owned by a City.

    • Sierra says:

      Here is a suggestion:
      While some of this info is not incorrect
      Instead say: While some of this info is correct.

      Now getting to the heart of your points:

      “Let’s focus on auto painters making $110K. We can agree that is not right.”

      If you are going to do that, then you need to focus on all classes that are “non-core” business which is the majority of employees. Why does DWP need construction, repair, and engineering, can’t that be done by contractors at a better price without the lifetime health and retirement benefits?

      “DWP was the only utility in CA to make 20% renewables by 2010. A very expensive proposition.”

      If that’s an expensive proposition, all the more reason to cut cost which includes labor and overhead. And is that 20% renewable sustainable? Does the wind farm really produce anything? What was the cost/benefit of that?

      “DWP salaries MUST BE COMPARED TO OTHER UTILITIES. Not other City owned departments. DWP is a utility that happens to be owned by a City.”

      Why? Are you saying City Employees are inferior? Other than Linemen and Operators, whats so special about the remaining majority of employees of DWP. There are many talented people who are out of work. When they did have jobs, none of them were guaranteed lifetime employment at pensions that allowed them to retire at age 55.

      The problem with DWP and other government workers is that the public/taxpayers are footing the bill. They are the employers and yet have no say so when it comes to employment decisions or agreements.

  13. Steve Johnson says:

    As an ex-DWP employee. I can tell you 1st hand that there is little to no accountability within the dept. From training (that lacks the professional teaching standards that exist in other professional training areas), to worker productivity & accountability (especially among Electric Station Operators) to design and engineering staff in regards to electric infrastructure. If DWP were doing such a good job, then why is it that many of the receiving stations, distribution stations and grid cannot keep up with the electrical demands of our city? The fact is, our system hangs by a thread & is not uncommon to see equipment that is nearing 100 years old. Its a disgrace when you see how many planning and building projects are approved every year without consideration for water, sewer, electrical, transportation and air quality impact it has on the city and our infrastructure. Heck, just drive down one of our many pothole ridden roads in downtown Los Angeles and you’d think you went 4 wheeling up in some tough terrain in the mountains. I’m sorry, but all this points right back to the leadership of this city. The city council and the Mayor. The people whom we elected to run this town, and they have been failing us for decades now. I’m ashamed of what’s happened to the town I was born and raised in. My parents native country of France has 10 times the roads and infrastructure that L.A. has. Like I said….a disgrace when you come us to cities like Tokyo, Seoul, or Berlin.

  14. james says:

    I work for the company and I don’t make the six-figured salaries listed in the article. DWP has alot of chiefs and not enough indians.

  15. Maureen Mongan says:

    Meanwhile, teachers haven’t gotten a raise in 6 years and have taken pay cuts as well as public blame for low scores, poor student attendance, graduation rates, etc. So I guess our politicians who say they are so concerned about education, really only care about DWP workers. I struggle in a low-income school to bring caring as well as learning to my students, who have tremendous needs, and the DWP carpenter makes 30 thousand dollars more than I do? And I can’t afford my DWP bill most of the time, not without sacrificing other personal needs? What’s wrong with this picture? Power is more important than human beings? None of these guys would even have a job if there were not human beings who needed services!

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