LA WATCHDOG - Many City Hall observers are scratching their heads wondering why campaign funding IBEW Union Bo$$ d’Arcy agreed to the terms of the new four year contract with our Department of Water and Power, especially when it involved deferring a 2% cost of living allowance (approximately $15 million) scheduled for October 1, 2013.
Bo$$ d’Arcy also agreed to establish a new pension tier for newly hired employees, to create 34 new job classifications that have the same compensation arrangements as City workers, and to form a Joint Labor/Management Resolution Board to review and possibly amend all existing work rules.
But do not be deceived. This is a huge win for Bo$$ d’Arcy given the pressures from City Hall, the downtown establishment, and Mickey Kantor’s LA 2020 Commission for give backs, wage parity with City workers, and increased employee contributions and amendments to DWP’s Cadillac health care plan.
When he entered into negotiations for this extension of the existing contract, Bo$$ d’Arcy had two major goals: “paycheck protection” for his members and the maintenance of his membership levels and the resulting cash flow of $10 million a year.
According to the August 9 memorandum by the Chief Legislative Analyst, the proposed agreement “will not reduce the take-home pay for current employees.”
This means that his members will not be required to contribute to the cost of their Cadillac health care plan despite the fact that premium costs have increased by over 40% during the last five years. Nor will the health care plan be adjusted to increase the annual deductible or co pays for visits to the doctor’s office or for prescription drugs.
According to the August 2012 report by PA Consulting, modest reforms to the Department’s health care plan would have saved DWP and its Ratepayers at least $20 million a year.
As it is, we do not have to feel sorry for DWP employees. Their average compensation package is $165,000, consisting $100,000 in salary (a 35% increase from 2005), $50,000 in pension contributions, and at least $15,000 for the Cadillac healthcare plan. This is significantly more than your average Ratepayer where the City’s average household income is $50,000.
The IBEW has also been able to maintain its membership levels, dues from members, and its $10 million cash flow as recommendations calling for benchmarking, lower staffing levels, especially in Customer Service and Information Technology, and the outsourcing of noncore operations have been ignored or rejected despite the prospect of significant savings.
This very healthy annual cash flow is also supplemented by other nontransparent programs it controls such as the Health and Welfare Trust, the Joint Training Institute, the Joint Safety Institute, Working Californians, and the Water and Power Defense League.
With this huge cash flow, this single purpose entity is able to manipulate and control the City Council as was evident in Herb Wesson’s effort to railroad this back room negotiated contract through the bowels of City Hall without any hearings or input from the Ratepayers, the 95 Neighborhood Councils, or the Ratepayers Advocate.
But the reach of Bo$$ d’Arcy’s tentacles is easy to understand once you follow the money. During the 2013 election cycle, the IBEW and its fronts “invested” serious cash in the campaigns of newly elected members Gil Cedillo, Sr. and Curren Price.
Furthermore, the Bo$$ has showered dough on at least eight other current members of the City Council and their pet projects, including Felipe Fuentes, the new chair of the Energy and Environmental Committee that oversees the DWP. Fuentes also contributed $20,000 to infamous boondoggle known as Measure B that would have allowed the IBEW to be the sole source contractor for the installation of 400 megawatts of solar power in the City.
The approval of this contract does not mean the negotiations are over for the next four years. To the contrary, the Joint Labor/Management Resolution Board (“JRB”) will be charged with reviewing all work rules that impact DWP’s efficiency. This will include benchmarking of DWP’s salaries, healthcare benefits, and pensions as well as its operations, staffing, outsourcing, overtime provisions, and numerous other areas.
It is obvious that the highly conflicted City Council cannot be trusted to oversee the JRB and the DWP and to act in the best interests of the Ratepayers, the voters, and the City. That is why the DWP management, the Board of Commissioners, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Controller Ron Galperin, the Ratepayers Advocate, and the Ratepayers themselves must be vigilant in their efforts to reform our Department of Water and Power.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hear Jack every Tuesday morning at 6:20 on McIntyre in the Morning, KABC Radio 790.)
Vol 11 Issue 70
Pub: Aug 30, 2013