Despite charges by a Los Angeles councilman that his colleagues were "giving away the farm," the City Council voted Friday to give 40 employees of the Department of Water and Power retroactive raises for three years.
Councilman Greig Smith cast the lone vote of opposition, objecting that the department routinely pays higher salaries to its employees than other city departments do.
"Sometimes you just have to draw the line," Smith said. "We keep giving away the farm over there to the detriment of what we do here."
The contract approved Friday retroactively gives the 40 technical supervisory and business administration employees a 5% raise this year, 4% last year, and 4% the year before that.
Smith complained that the raises are higher than the increases given to other city workers such as police officers and firefighters, who received a 2% raise effective last year and a 3% increase effective July 1.
But Brian D'Arcy, who heads the union representing the 40 workers, said the raises match those given to other DWP workers last year.
"It's a tempest in a teapot," said D'Arcy, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18.
Until recently, the 40 employees were represented by the Engineers and Architects Assn., which had negotiated for identical raises.
However, the workers switched unions and joined the IBEW.
The council action simply gives them the same contract that other similar workers have, according to Bill Fujioka, the city administrative officer.
Councilman Dennis Zine said the employees deserve the same raises as other members of their union.