Los Angeles officials and six unions representing 22,000 city workers reached a tentative five-year, double-digit salary deal just as the current contracts expired, officials said Monday. The deal ended days of intense negotiating in which the unions sought parity with Department of Water and Power workers, who are among the highest-paid employees in the city. City and union representatives confirmed the five-year contract but declined to discuss details. Sources said the contract would amount to about a 13 percent salary hike. But while both its length and annual pay hikes will be steps toward parity with DWP workers, sources said it will not close the nearly 20 percent gap in average salaries reported Sunday by the Daily News. “The great outcome for the city is the unions and management working together on some tough issues facing the city,” said City Administrative Officer Karen Sisson, who declined to provide details of the contract. “(It is a) very fair deal.” A sticking point in negotiations had been a five-year contract negotiated with DWP workers in 2005 guaranteeing 16.8 percent annual salary increases that could rise to 28 percent, depending on inflation. Officials said the six-union pact does not include a similar clause for inflation. It must still be ratified by members and approved by the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The deal came at 11:59 p.m. Sunday – a minute before the old contracts were set to expire – and followed recent concerns over a possible sanitation strike. Earlier this year, the Engineers and Architects Association staged a three-day walkout in protest of the salary disparities and won a three-year contract with annual raises of 3 percent. The most recent contract for civilian workers in the city was for a total of 6.25 percent, with no raise the first year. Generally, city officials say, each 1 percent increase costs the city $12 million a year. The deal will go today to the Executive Employee Relations Committee, which includes the mayor, council members and CAO staffers. Sisson called the DWP pay disparity “the elephant in the room” during negotiations, but said negotiators kept the fiscal health of the city as their central focus. Sisson said the new contract allows the city flexibility in planning, and she predicted savings to the city in fewer labor arbitrations. “That has value: productivity and time,” she said. Barbara Maynard, spokeswoman for the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, said she could not comment on the deal because it had not yet been shown to members. But Maynard said the mayor used “mutual-gains bargaining” in the negotiations. “The move put negotiations on a cooperative track rather than a path that could have led to a strike or other conflict,” Maynard said. “Mutual-gains bargaining focused the parties on problem-solving and finding shared interests. In addition to wages and workplace issues, the union bargaining teams engaged with city leaders around such topics as service efficiency, safety and programs to help connect local youth to good jobs with the city.” Dennis Zine, chairman of the council’s Personnel Committee, said the equity issue between DWP and civilian workers remains a major issue. And Zine, who opposed the DWP contract two years ago, said the Daily News’ story highlighting the gap could make ratification of the civilian unions’ deal difficult. “I know how people make comparisons,” he said. “If there’s a monkey wrench, some people will read the article and say, `This isn’t fair; we’re too far apart.’ “Obviously there’s a great disparity; that’s a fact of life. Do we bring DWP down? That’s not going to happen, and we don’t have the money to bring the others up.” The civilian coalition in the recent talks included Service Employees International Union Local 721, representing 9,160 workers from custodians and trash-truck drivers to street-services employees. It also represented 9,000 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 36 employees including clerical workers, librarians, professional medical employees, Community Redevelopment Agency workers, and mostly part-time Recreation and Parks employees. Other unions include the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501; Laborers International Union Local 777; Los Angeles/Orange County Building & Construction Trades Council; and Teamsters Local 911. Eduardo Martinez, economist with the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said it’s common for public unions to go after better packages won by other unions even amid strained budgets. “It’s pretty common in the unionized public sector for the most recent, highest contract to be the benchmark for all the other contracts,” Martinez said. “It can cause some budgetary issues … it could result in some potential cutbacks in services.” [email protected] (818) 713-3731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!