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USING LABOR/MANAGEMENT COMMITTEES TO BECOME COMPETITIVE

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Abstract:

The City of Los Angeles has the second largest wastewater treatment program in the United States. In 1988, the City signed a Consent Decree with the EPA to bring its Hyperion Treatment Plant up to full secondary by 1998. The rush to complete this 1.6 billion project on time while concurrently processing 350 MGD of flow at the plant resulted in a rapidly expanding workforce. The increased workforce and the cost of complying with the consent decree nearly doubled rates during the first four years of the construction program. In 1995, the City received several unsolicited privatization proposals. Even though it is almost fully unionized (the only non-union employees are the Bureau Director and the Hyperion Plant Manager), the wastewater program chose to meet the challenge to become more efficient. In FY 1996, the Wastewater Labor Management Team (WLMC) was formed and established a goal of 25% cost reduction with no layoffs. By FY 2001 there will be a decrease of 28% FTEs. However, as the internal improvement approached the five year mark, it became apparent that a plateau was being reached; possibly all of the “low hanging fruit” had been harvested. Last year, the Bureau retained the services of Black & Veatch to conduct a Best Practices Study to evaluate the program's effectiveness and lay out a road map to move up to the next level of efficiency by implementing best practices throughout the program. This paper describes the five year improvement effort and plans for the future as seen from the inside (by the Bureau Director) and from the outside (as seen by the Best Practices consultant).

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864700784545621

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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