Mayor Garcetti throttled the Darcynian Candidate Wendy Greuel in the recent mayoral campaign. He has the political capital and the public’s support to insist on meaningful concessions in the current round of labor negotiations with the IBEW Local 18 headed by Brian D’Arcy.
Garcetti, or possibly no one, will ever enjoy leverage of this magnitude for a long time to come – or at least until all of the water mains break.
The proposed contract under consideration represents D-Day as far as DWP compensation goes. This is no time to yield and sacrifice the hard-fought initiative won in the last election, passing the advantage back to D’Arcy. It is now, or possibly never.
It does not help matters that Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller is characterizing the current draft as the best deal we can get and recommending its adoption, according to Rick Orlov’s article in Sunday’s Daily News. It’s fine if Miller wants to tell the Mayor that in private, but a public comment from a bureaucrat regarding delicate negotiations before this deal is sealed tips off the union about what some elected officials might find acceptable. D’Arcy has enough friends on the City Council willing to help him without Miller telegraphing inside information.
And why is Miller so hot to get the deal approved? If you believe the independent analysis he is relying on, there would be savings from $5-7 billion over the next 40 years. The contract calls for delaying a currently scheduled 4% salary increase by three years and requiring retirees to contribute a paltry 3% towards post-retirement health coverage (employees pay nothing today).
Wow, delaying a 4% raise when the IBEW 18 members earn 20% and as high as 40% more than their industry counterparts is really saving us. Gerry Miller must have had a lesson in union-speak when he described the delay as the equivalent of a cut.
If anything, we should insist on phasing in salary cuts over a period of years until the DWP is more in line with other major utilities. More should be required from employees for health insurance premiums as well.
Agreeing to the deal would mean an end to the lawsuit filed by the DWP which seeks to recover for the pension obligations of general fund employees transferred to the DWP – another phantom budget cut foisted on the public by the City Council a couple of years ago.
But withdrawing the lawsuit will not produce any long-term savings. The city is on the hook for the unfunded liability associated with the transferred employees regardless.
The savings Miller refers to are illusory – they are comparing the proposed contract to a largely hypothetical scenario – one that could change significantly over the next 40 years as future officials look to the IBEW for campaign cash.
The terms of the contract are reminiscent of Don Fanucci’s offer to the young Vito Corleone in Godfather 2. Basically, if the city approves the deal, it would be like paying protection against worse damage down the road.
That’s not negotiation, that’s extortion. Garcetti needs to face down Don D’Arcy.