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Ron Kaye: Standing up to the town bully

May 04, 2013
  • Columnist Ron Kaye
Columnist Ron Kaye

The sparse front page of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 website expresses exactly the message Brian D'Arcy wants his members to get: Rotating photos of protesting workers waving "A DEAL IS A DEAL" signs.

It also features a "hot topics" box with a single four-year-old item about heroic workers, a one-sentence message with a mug shot of the union boss and a link to a story with the headline, "Union chief is wired into City Hall."

The story is a three-month-old column in the L.A. Times by Steve Lopez calling D'Arcy "feared, coveted, respected, reviled" and talks about how the IBEW plans to spend millions of dollars to get Wendy Greuel elected mayor and put more compliant City Council members into office.

D'Arcy is the king of bullies and IBEW Local 18 is the club he uses to force the docile leadership of L.A. to surrender to the outrageous demands he throws on the bargaining table under threat of a strike intended to shut off water and power to four million people.


A lot of people call that blackmail. But extortion tactics have worked so well that D'Arcy — with 95% of the workforce under his control — wields as much clout in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as the general manager. It's a fact that helped him in contracts with municipal utilities in Burbank, Pasadena and Azusa — cities under pressure to match wage rates at the LADWP, where workers average $100,000 a year, a 50% premium over other city workers for the same jobs and a 25% premium over other utility workers in the region.

Nobody says "no" to Brian D'Arcy. Until now.

On Thursday, Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa — after a year of being jerked around, threatened and harassed by D'Arcy and his minions during fruitless negotiations on an initial contract that long ago had reached an impasse — decided enough was enough.

He told the union the city was ready to unilaterally implement its last, best and final offer for Glendale Water & Power if the City Council agrees on Tuesday — an offer that includes a 1.75% pay cut.

Hooray for Glendale!

The pay cut doesn't mean much will be saved this fiscal year, but it sets a lower salary benchmark for negotiations with the IBEW for next year. Martin Marrufo, the IBEW spokesman, did not return a call Friday seeking comment.

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