As the city struggles with an impending $400 million deficit, hurdles for hiring more police, looming layoffs and intermittent fire-station closures, the City Council on Friday voted to give Department of Water and Power workers a raise, according to the City Clerk's office.

The unanimous vote will give DWP employees a 3.25 percent raise immediately and four subsequent raises attached to inflation rates, with a cap of 4 percent, over a five-year span. The council had negotiated the deal with the powerful DWP union.

The union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, is a force in local politics. It recently spent $900,000, for example, in an effort to elect former Hollywood studio executive Christine Essel to the council.

That move might have backfired — Assemblyman Paul Krekorian took the East Valley council seat this week. And some critics are concerned that the DWP's employees are enjoying raises at a time when other public employees have to undergo furloughs and pay cuts.

The department has also faced criticism over water-main breaks throughout the city, lawn-watering restrictions and rate increases.

LA Weekly