LADWP Response to Transparent California Report on Overtime

With low-unemployment and a rapidly aging workforce, LADWP is in constant need of skilled labor to fill positions to keep LA’s lights on and water flowing.  Vacancies in key positions often result in higher overtime for staff. In some cases of especially understaffed areas, or highly skilled positions, higher amounts of overtime are necessary to operate 24/7/365 days a year,  while recruitment and hiring are underway.

Just this year alone, LADWP has taken steps to reduce the overtime in its security services division by hiring 19 new officers, with 11 more expected in the coming months. The security officer referenced in the Transparent California report worked just over 4,000 hours in 2018 due to significant staff vacancies that were present in the Security Services unit. LADWP’s Security Services unit provides security 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to LADWP facilities and water and electrical infrastructure.

The 306 employees making overtime in excess of $100,000 in 2018, amount to approximately 2% of LADWP’s more than 12,000 total employees in 2018, and include specialized positions such as security services positions as well as load dispatchers who are responsible for safely operating the City’s power grid 24/7.

Senior Load Dispatchers are critical positions for electric system reliability and public safety that has been historically understaffed and difficult to fill due to the “continuous shift” aspect and the highly stressful nature of the work. The positions, along with other skilled craft positions in high demand and short supply regionally, are highly specialized and require many years of experience and apprenticeship. Over the past decade or more, LADWP has changed the job requirements for the Senior Load Dispatcher position and offered the test on a continuous basis in an attempt to attract more qualified candidates. Due to the lack of a full staff, overtime is required to fill vacant shifts, holidays as well as vacation and earned days off.  Our electric trouble dispatchers are also on shift 24/7/365 and take over 18 months to be trained to work in the critical positions that dispatch crews to restore power outages and manage and track outages and field conditions, ensuring the safety of our crews and restoration of power to affected customers.  These positions are also in high demand and qualified and available candidates to fill them are in short supply.

While LADWP invests valuable time and money to overcome the significant shortage in these positions locally and regionally through recruitment and training, employees are being lured away by competitors with promises of guaranteed overtime and hiring bonuses as well as annual performance bonuses. At LADWP, there is no bonus pay regardless of rank or seniority. Any overtime pay at LADWP is earned with time and labor. In the long term, the Department is also working to attract more young adults to skilled craft trades to increase the number of recruits to these highly specialized positions.