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L.A. City Council poised to approve raises of up to 22% for DWP workers

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building in downtown L.A. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Council is expected Wednesday to approve a five-year salary package for the Department of Water and Power’s biggest union.

Under the terms of the proposed contract, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18’s roughly 9,000 members would get six raises within five years. The agreement would provide raises of at least 13.2% and as much as 22.3% by October 2021, depending on inflation.

Beyond that, the pact would provide a 4% raise to the base pay of DWP electrical distribution mechanics, also known as linemen.

The anticipated agreement comes after a three-year period in which IBEW Local 18 members received no raises, until a single 2% increase went into effect last fall.

The contract would end ratepayer funding for two high-profile training institutes and requires that every union member undergo yearly performance reviews.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointees on the Department of Water and Power board last week backed the contract.

The City Council declined to hold a committee hearing on the agreement. The lack of a hearing, which would have allowed public input before the contract reached council chambers, is drawing criticism from neighborhood leaders.

The average total annual compensation for a DWP worker for the year ending September 2015 was $136,000, according to a recent report commissioned by the utility’s Office of Public Accountability.

That figure includes a $99,500 salary, $14,500 in retirement contributions and $22,100 in medical and other benefits.

The figure doesn’t include overtime. The report found that the utility paid out $157.3 million in overtime during the same period and that DWP employees “appear to have a higher percentage of its employees receiving overtime” than other publicly owned utilities.

Overall, the report found that those on the lower end of the pay scale at the utility make more than employees with similar jobs at other utilities. However, workers with higher salaries at the DWP are less well compensated than their counterparts elsewhere.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who chairs a committee on personnel issues, said he supports the proposed agreement, calling the raises “relatively modest” in an interview Tuesday.