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LADWP to hold public hearing for labor contract dispute


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A proposed labor contract that would impact how much rate payers are charged for utility service will be discussed at a public hearing on Friday.

Labor negotiations are usually done behind closed doors, but public hearings were proposed by Council President Herb Wesson last week after Brian D’Arcy, the head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, indicated he may withdraw their proposal if it is not accepted soon.

The union represents more than 8,200 workers who make up 87 percent of Department of Water and Power employees.

Wesson said the city should try to make a decision on whether to accept the proposed agreement by Sept. 1 in order to obtain its benefits, which include rescinding a cost-of-living increase scheduled for Oct. 1.

The proposed labor agreement also includes settling of a lawsuit filed by IBEW members over $183 million in pension costs.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, fresh off an election campaign during which the DWP employee union spent $4 million to support his opponent, Wendy Greuel, criticized the proposal in recent weeks, saying it does not go far enough to create pension reform.

Last week, Garcetti’s aide said the mayor recognizes the agreement could result in “substantial savings,” but maintained the deal needs to go further.

Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller, an adviser to the City Council, prepared a report last week endorsing the union’s proposed agreement, saying it would save the city $7.9 billion over 30 years.

This Friday’s meeting will involve the full 15-member City Council and be led by the chairs of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Energy and Environment Committee. The regular 10 a.m. council meeting has been canceled so the public hearing will be held instead.

Some discussion will still happen behind closed doors this week, with the City Council and the Executive Employee Relations Committee — which includes Garcetti, Wesson and other members of the council — scheduled to talk about the labor negotiations and the related lawsuit over pension costs in closed session Tuesday.