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Hundreds protest possible L.A. City Council control of DWP pension system

October 26, 2010 | 10:03 am

Pension
Hundreds of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees packed City Hall on Tuesday to protest a proposed ballot measure that would give the city's elected officials oversight of the utility's pension system.

Holding signs that read "Leave My DWP Pension Alone," the protest was a show of force by the union that represents workers at the nation's largest municipally owned electric utility.

Workers lined the sidewalks around City Hall and crammed into the council chambers, where a meeting on the pension proposal is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Councilman Bernard Parks called last week for a measure that would ask voters to give the council oversight of retirement costs at the DWP, whose pension system is separate from other city employees'.

The head of the DWP employee union responded by promising to kill that plan, saying it should never have made it onto an agenda.

"They're not moving our pension under council control," said Brian D’Arcy, who runs the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18. "They did a pretty remarkable job of screwing the other two up."

The costs of the city's other two retirement systems -- one for public-safety employees and the other for non-DWP civilian workers -- are rising so quickly they could consume nearly one-third of the city's general fund budget by 2015.

The council also is slated to vote on a ballot measure that would trim retirement benefits for newly hired police officers and firefighters.

DWP workers receive pensions that are more generous than those provided to other civilian city employees but less lucrative than those given to sworn public-safety workers.

Under the retirement formula provided by pension officials, a DWP employee who retires after 30 years with a salary of $100,000 will receive a $69,000 annual pension. That is roughly $4,000 more a year than the amount provided to a comparable civilian worker.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: DWP employee Eric Bishop holds a sign outside City Hall, where hundreds of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees gathered to protest a proposed ballot measure that would give the city's elected officials oversight of the utility's pension system. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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