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Pay Raise for DWP Workers Delayed Under New Labor Contract

A scheduled cost-of-living increase will be delayed amid pension plan revisions for new hires.

City Council approved a new contract with DWP workers.
City Council approved a new contract with DWP workers.

The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Tuesday to a new labor contract with about 8,200 Department of Water and Power workers that delays pay raises and revamps pension plans.

The four-year contract, approved on an 11-0 vote, covers employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18. Union members ratified the deal in September.

DWP workers had been scheduled to get a cost-of-living raise of about 2 percent on Oct. 1. The new agreement will delay that increase to 2016.

Top city officials have projected the labor pact will save DWP $6.1 billion during three decades and help control the cost of utility rates, which are still expected to go up over the next three years.

The deal adjusts salaries for incoming employees and revamps pension plans for new hires.

To settle a lawsuit between the city and members of the DWP pension system, the council also agreed to changing the way retirement benefits are calculated for employees who transfer between the city's and the DWP's pension systems.

The change, which prevents either system from honoring the pension costs of the other system for transferred employees, met with protest from members of the Coalition of LA City Unions, which represents six unions and about 20,000 city workers.

The suspension of the practice of "reciprocity" between the two pension systems would "effectively rob our employees of the pension benefits that they have earned and will rely on," according to Cheryl Parisi, who heads the coalition.

City employees will "sacrifice the value of their pensions" if they transfer to the DWP system, according to Parisi.

She said the coalition has filed an "unfair labor" claim with the city's employee relations board and will "pursue all remedies" to challenge the change.

- City News Service

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