$70K pay for janitors + rate hike should = revolt

June 6, 2013

By Chris Reed

LADWPLast year, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power imposed an 11 percent rate hike — which it called a “rate change” — on its power customers, while water customers saw rates go up 5 percent.

Millions of Angelenos will no doubt be thrilled to know what this is paying for: $70,000 a year janitors. No wonder DWP unions want to keep pay data secret.

This is from the L.A. Times:

Average DWP pay: $101,237. It’s good to be DWPer

“Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant stared in disbelief Tuesday at a list of hundreds of Department of Water and Power employees who have asked that their names and salaries be withheld from the public, citing safety concerns.

“On the list were mechanics, typists and meter readers.

“‘This is frivolous on its face; I mean, these are DWP employees,’ Chalfant said, noting that the names of government employees are public and even undercover police officers have a hard time demonstrating they would be in danger if their names appeared on a list of department employees. …

“The average DWP employee, including everyone from the highest-paid engineers to the lowest-paid temps, made $101,237 in 2012, the data show.

“Among the job titles that saw the biggest average pay increases over the last five years were custodians, up 25%, from $56,060 to $69,995.

“Welders’ and machinists’ pay grew 18% on average to $132,548 and $142,562, respectively. Those figures represent full-time employees who worked entire years in 2008 and 2012.

“Employees seeking anonymity made $110,730 on average in 2012, 12.4% more than workers whose names were released.”

White House hearts federal employees

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the public employee gratification front, The Washington Post reports the Obama administration is seeking a raise in pay for all federal employees.

The raise may be small (1 percent), but the same “step” pay raise policies seen in California government are used in the federal government, so the claim that federal employees have gone years without pay hikes is simply wrong. And aren’t we supposed to see belt-tightening and shared sacrifice in this post-sequester era?

Instead of pragmatism, we get disinformation. “As the President stated in his [fiscal year] 2014 Budget, a permanent pay freeze is neither sustainable nor desirable,” a White House statement noted.

The myth of a ‘permanent pay freeze’

What “permanent pay freeze”? Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have gotten step raises in recent years.

And who says a pay freeze for government employees — with raises earned for performance, not for staying alive — “is neither sustainable nor desirable”? Turnover among federal employees is minuscule. That indicates compensation is far more than adequate.

Government employees aren’t just a protected class in California. It’s a federal phenomenon as well — a depressing one.



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  1. us citizen
    us citizen 6 June, 2013, 07:44

    You have no idea how bad this pisses me off. These salaries are beyond ridiculous! Im not paying someone else more money than what I make for the same damned job plus they get all the bennies. WTF is wrong with this government!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  2. doug
    doug 6 June, 2013, 10:03

    “protect a union job at any cost”
    they were the main $$ source behind Wendy Gruel when she ran for mayor.

    we’ll see what Garcetti pulls out of his hat.
    it’ll start with some sort of bond probably.

    Reply this comment
  3. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 6 June, 2013, 10:21

    Steve-o shows up in …..3…..2…..1…..

    Reply this comment
  4. Eva
    Eva 6 June, 2013, 11:19

    “Turnover among federal employees is minuscule. That indicates compensation is far more than adequate.”

    The biggest reason for the ‘minuscule’ turnover of all public service employees is the lack of transferable pension plans between public entities and public-private. You are basically stuck with your agency. That’s especially true for municipal and state personnel.

    Reply this comment
  5. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 6 June, 2013, 11:29

    Well, at least the water district fires the substandard janitors. Only the best janitors are retained for such work.

    Right? RIGHT???

    Reply this comment
  6. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 6 June, 2013, 11:35

    BTW, contrary to the populist mentality, the biggest compensation disparity between public and private sector work (people doing the same job) is NOT at the top. It’s almost always at the blue collar end — the less skill involved, the higher the pay disparity.

    And, just to beat these downtrodden janitors more, don’t forget their Cadillac pensions, early retirement, (likely) subsidized retiree health care, great vacations and extra holidays. And job security.

    The solution to all is obvious — GET A GOVERNMENT JOB. ANY job.

    Reply this comment
  7. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 6 June, 2013, 16:39

    Very true, RR……..look at Lois Lerner……she had 100s working under her, and made, what, $170K or so including bonus? Something like that.

    But your average cubicle hamster is VASTLY overpaid.

    Reply this comment
  8. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 8 June, 2013, 07:50

    Eva makes a great point about transferability of pensions. It’s been the bane of CA governments.

    The whole PURPOSE of a pension is (well, SHOULD be) to retain quality employees. But with transferability, state and local govt employees can leapfrog from agency to agency without the usual penalties found with more functional private pensions.

    Reply this comment
  9. Kreditanstalt
    Kreditanstalt 8 June, 2013, 10:45

    One thing missing here is that it is exceedingly difficult to even qualify for grunt work as a machinist, lathe operator, truck driver, taxi-driver, carpenter, plumber or what-have-you. Even though the actual hands-on “skills” could be learned effectively in a couple of days, newcomers are effectively barred by “qualifications”: certificates, apprenticeships, “journeymen’s” credentials, “tickets”, diplomas, training, licenses, insurability, seniority in hiring and firing, union protections for established workers, “minimum wages” (preventing any from working for less) and so on.

    It’s all about protecting the existing few. Plus, employers are too fat and sassy to do their own sourcing, checking, interviewing, tryouts, and legwork – their businesses are, facing no free competition, simply profitable enough now to allow this luxury of reliance on “qualifications”. And, even IF one jumps thru all the hoops, the field may be flooded or knowledge gained be outdated by the time one arrives.

    Not so easy…even if we could get there…

    Reply this comment

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