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After impasse with IBEW, Glendale City Council imposes pay cut on utility workers

May 07, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Martin Marrufo talks with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers from Local 18 memebers and supporters outside Glendale City Hall on Tuesday.
Martin Marrufo talks with International Brotherhood… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

More than 200 Glendale Water & Power employees and their union comrades packed City Hall Tuesday night to protest a contract that cuts their pay by 1.75%.

Despite the showing, the City Council  unable to reach a deal with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, the union representing the utility workers — voted unanimously, with one abstention, to impose the contract, which also requires workers to temporarily pay more for their own health insurance.

[This post has been corrected, please see note below for details.]

The move comes after nearly two years of unsuccessful negotiations with the Los Angeles-based union, which that also represents water and power workers in Los Angeles and Burbank.

IBEW spokesman Gus Corona attributed the contract terms not to budget concerns, as Glendale officials cited, but to what he claimed was an anti-union philosophy.

“It’s more about busting the unions, that’s what it’s about,” Corona said, as IBEW members whistled and clapped.

Mike Sagehorn, a former Glendale Water & Power employee who left about nine months ago because he was upset with how the utility treated workers, said others will quit, too.

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“You guys are going to lose more,” he said.

The contract, which takes effect May 16, will last through the fiscal year, which ends June 30, but will stay in effect until another contract is agreed upon, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz.

The union sent a counter-proposal to city officials Tuesday morning, but Ochoa said the contract was “insignificantly different” and didn’t merit consideration.

The City Council, meanwhile, defended the decision to impose terms, citing protracted negotiations and the need to tamp down on costs.

“The council did not come to this decision easily nor rashly,” said Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian. “It’s unfortunate that we were not able to come to an agreement.”

In addition to the pay cut, the contract requires utility workers to pay 75% of the increased costs for health insurance that took effect last June. It also bans strikes, walkouts, staged sick days and other work stoppages.

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