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When Will the Unions Ever Learn?
Donate to Villaraigosa's the campaigner, extort from Villaraigosa the mayor…

[by Christine E. Hauser] 8/11/05

In another case of organized labor interests using their political clout to try to help themselves to a huge slice of funds from the public coffers, a union representing workers from the Department of Water and Power (DWP) in Los Angeles is trying to extort a 34 per cent pay increase from the city’s new mayor, Anthony Villaraigosa. Officials for the DWP explained that the staggering pay increase is necessary to remain competitive with other utilities, but admitted they did not research how their salaries compared with other utilities before recommending the raises, and acknowledged that the city's utility already has a higher pay scale for key positions than three of the four other major utilities in the state.


Christine E. Hauser


Christine E Hauser is Marketing & Communications Director with WECA-IEC [Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.]

[go to Hauser index]

While Villaraigosa calls the proposed pay increases too extravagant and counter to his campaign promise to make the city “live within its means,” the new mayor faces a slippery political slope on this issue. You see, the union representing the DWP employees in line for this raise is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 18, the same group that gave more than $300,000 to an independent campaign for Villaraigosa during his bid to defeat former mayor Jim Hahn. This is a significant test to see if Villaraigosa really is the reform-minded candidate he claimed to be during his campaign, or if he will play the same quid pro quo games with union fundraisers that his predecessors did.

Unfortunately for Villaraigosa, he is taking on a formidable enemy by trying to hold off a union campaign contributor ready to collect on its debt. As Governor Schwarzenegger is learning right now, getting on the wrong side of organized labor in this state can make for a brutal ride. If organized labor does not get what it wants, even if its demands are counter to the public interest – look out. The griping of an angry ratepayer is nothing compared to the wrath of a union boss scorned.

With no money in the city’s budget to accommodate the proposed pay raise, the money will either come from increased rates or be added onto future budget deficits. When will the unions ever learn their lesson? First the city employees union brought San Diego to the brink of bankruptcy by way of their bloated pension deal, and now another union threatens to cripple LA’s utilities structure with a grab at a 34 per cent pay raise. When will organized labor stop mortgaging the public’s future for its own gain? And when will politicians stop abusing their stewardship of public funds to pay back their political debts? CRO

copyright 2005 Christine E. Hauser







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