The work outlook is very strong with dispatches at a high (1,780 as of October 1) and we have been experiencing several unfilled calls over the last couple of months. We also don’t anticipate any real slowdown in projected man-hours through the end of the year and have been told in some areas to expect to see an increase in 2017 in all types of work, including distribution, transmission, substation and underground.
We are seeing an increase in transmission work as we head into the cooler months. We are also seeing an increase in the use of the National Transmission Portability agreement, which is quite different than the standard portability language in the Outside Line Agreement. Given the current status of unfilled calls, this has actually helped us man some of the work. The big differences are:
- The Transmission Portability agreement applies to each job, whereas the standard language addresses each contractor working in the jurisdiction of the contract.
- On jobs that are 100kV and above where the manpower will exceed 15 employees, the contractor can bring in the first 10 employees, then it’s one from the hall to one more portability. Reverse lay-off works the same way.
- For jobs with less than 15 employees, the company can either use the standard portability language or a 1-to-1 portability formula. For every port they bring in, they have to take one from the hall.
Crew visits and presence in the field will continue to be a priority. Business Rep Richard Ingle and Ralph Kenyon are splitting the Construction jurisdiction, which is approximately 257,000 square miles. They average around 5,000 miles a month covering this jurisdiction. Safety Orientations are still a requirement before anyone takes a call, and the OSL reps are busy doing these as well, as there is no slowdown in the number of people seeking work.
Mobile Home Park Conversion
The mobile home park pilot program has been in full swing, with a much larger portion of it scheduled to begin in 2017. One of the biggest issues we are seeing with this project is the ability to obtain skilled and IBEW-utility-qualified civil contractors to keep up with the amount of work needed in 2017. We see this as a short duration surge, which should slow after 2017 if the pilot program becomes a statewide initiative. All of the civil work is being performed under the joint trench agreement, which also adds to the manning up of this work (since a good part of our membership would prefer not to work under it because it removes the daily subsistence and puts OT wages at the same as the state requirement). Since this work is gas-driven and joint trench, it can be issued to either IBEW or trades contractors. Without utilizing the joint trench agreement, we would price ourselves out of the work on manpower alone.
We are in discussions with several other civil contractors who are looking to try to sign and subcontract some of this civil work, which should help alleviate some of these concerns. Any member taking one of these calls will be notified at the time of the call that this work is being done under the Joint Trench Agreement. They will be given all the details for this work, and if they take the job, they are expected to perform as would be expected on any other job under the IBEW Code of Excellence. It is important to note that the biggest threat to these jobs, as well as all our work, is ourselves.
Google Fiber has paused plans to roll out fiber optic cables across a number of U.S. cities, as the company reevaluates its strategy to use mainly wireless to provide high-speed Internet service. One of the cities that was on their exploratory list for fiber was San Jose. Fiber installation throughout the city would provide years of work for our members, in order to upgrade the existing utility poles throughout the city. A lot of engineering and design work has gone into this already, however with their decision to pause and reevaluate the fiber optic plan, all this work could be in jeopardy. More information on this can be found at http://www.computerworld.com/article/3135108/internet/google-fiber-puts-expansion-plans-on-hold-to-review-strategy.html.
We continue to encounter members who have been deemed ineligible to work on PG&E property, contractors included. These are members who have worked for PG&E in the past (either directly or through the hiring hall) and were either terminated or quit under less-than-desirable circumstances. The process to have PG&E HR review the case and issue a determination takes about two months, the results have been mixed, and emotions run high for the member. It is difficult for all involved, as we have members living in the PG&E service territory who now find it difficult to obtain work close to home, and in many cases, are forced to move. If a member finds themselves in this situation, please contact our dispatch office or one of the OSL reps. for information on how to file.
Policy 22 (Journeyman Lineman testing)
We have seen an increase in the number of linemen working at the utilities seeking “A” membership and Journeyman Lineman status. Most of our utility members carry BA membership, but there are a lot of benefit to becoming an A member. The increase in cost of about $19 a month not only provides A members with another small retirement and death benefit, but they also get the ability to sign the out-of-work books all across the country if they leave the utility.
Any current 1245 Lineman possessing a “BA” membership and working for a utility who wishes to obtain an “A” membership and Journeyman Status is encouraged to contact Caitlin at the hall at 707-452-2727
1245 has 3 members who lost their homes to the Clayton fire recently. One of those members is an OSL apprentice named Kevin Guy. We are looking into ways to assist these members as we did last year when we had several more members who lost homes to devastating fires. Individuals looking to contribute to our fire fund may do so at https://www.gofundme.com/ibewfire2016.
With the increase in workload we are seeing an increase in contractual issues. The reps are very busy handling these issues and are doing a great job in getting them resolved early, as indicated by the outstanding grievance log.
- Open Grievance with CA Dalton for performing covered work without using the referral process. This contractor signed in 2007 in an attempt to obtain work. This is a small company that we haven’t heard from or seen from since signing, but recently turned up on a project in SF on a fiber optic project. We are scheduled to meet with them.
- Final payment received and grievance closed out with a contractor who did not use 1245 sub-contractor to perform covered work. An $11,000 donation was made to the OSL Injured Workers fund to resolve the issue.
- We are working through a couple of issues with some of our inspection contractors requiring conditions of employment that we disagree with.
We are still conducting interviews approximately 160 apprentice interviews each month. The goal is to hopefully get through the 1,300 applications that were received during the 10-day open application period that took place in March of 2016.
We currently have signed Environmental Restoration Technology, Inc. to the California Outside Line agreement.
We are contacted almost daily from new contractors hoping to work either directly for PG&E or as a sub-contractor with one of larger contractors.
Please call the Hotline after hours for daily counts related to actual numbers on the Books.
All 1245 OSL members are encouraged to sign up and register your own personal account through the Local 1245 website. Once registered, you will be able to check your status, make changes to personal information, pay union dues and even check on available jobs without having to call the dispatch office for this information. This is a very useful tool for our OSL members.