As usual, work slowed just a little as we closed out the previous year, with most of the membership and contractors taking a little time off after a busy 2016. The series of storms that swept through in January of 2017 changed that a bit, although we didn’t really see a big increase in man-hours, which are tied to the number of dispatches, due to the National Emergency Response agreement that’s been in place since 2009. This agreement was intended to speed up the process of getting “boots on the ground” after a storm hits for faster repair times for customers, and allows the contractor to bring in resources from outside the jurisdiction with the contractor only needing to provide names and socials of those coming in for reporting purposes. Wage rates and working conditions are those of the area where the work is being performed and our members need to be aware of that. A copy of this agreement can be found in the Outside Construction section of the IBEW 1245 website.
There were many successes in 2016, and we anticipate another strong year for contracting. We also realize there are a lot of challenges for us in the future to maintain this work. These challenges are both external and internal. Distributive generation, net metering and CCAs are some of the external challenges that will continue to drain revenue from the customers that most of our members rely on for work. Drains on revenue for our customers can be directly linked to many of the projects that our members would perform. It also has our customers looking at more ways to shave their costs, and we can read between the lines here.
The internal challenges we are seeing include keeping our members focused and making sure they understand the importance of the principles that the IBEW Code of Excellence was founded on. This is good quality work performed in a safe manner. We have made great strides here over the last several years, but we have still seen several incidences where unsafe work has been displayed. We have also utilized the safety dispatch policy that everyone receives when they sign our books, to suspend, and in some cases (depending on the unsafe work practice) require additional training to a handful of our members as well as travelers working in our jurisdiction.
As of Dec 31, 2016, the Local 1245 Construction Dispatch Office closed the year with 2,411 calls off of the books and another 391 dispatches that were related to Portability, organizing, transfers from Local 47 and separate street light agreements. That brings the total to 2,802 total dispatches.
On January 1, 2017, the Local 1245 outside construction team welcomed Casey Kelley as our newest Business Rep, joining our two other reps, Ralph Kenyon and Richard Ingle. Local 1245’s outside construction jurisdiction encompasses 256,000 square miles and covers all of Northern California and Northern Nevada. Although all of the reps will cross over and assist each other in all OSL needs, Casey’s primary responsibility will be Northern Nevada and the Sierras. He will also be assisting with several safety initiatives that have been established by Local 1245 over the last couple of years. The addition of Casey to the staff will allow Local 1245 to better serve our OSL membership and has given us an opportunity to explore some options to help our work group.
Social Media at Work
The CalNev JATC has taken a stance on social media at work and will be implementing a new policy on this soon. There have been instances where members or travelers have thought it was a good idea to post something negative, derogatory or unsafe on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts only to have it come back to haunt them.
During this recent storm event, we saw such an experience first-hand. A crew member who was here working under the storm agreement posted a negative and somewhat derogatory post to his Instagram account, only to have that post end up in the hands of the customer. This particular crew was asked to leave the job, and the person who did the posting was asked to never come back.
We ask that all our members and travelers who work in our jurisdiction act in a professional manner while at work, which includes keeping themselves focused on the job, and avoiding the social media at work. Please keep in mind that anything posted on social media can be captured and circulated, even if it’s quickly deleted from the user’s account.
January 2017 Storm Work
During the storms, we were able to make quit a few visits to the Guerneville, Santa Rosa, Napa and Angwin areas. Wilson and Intren had the majority of the crews in that area. We also did crew visits in Arnold and the surrounding area, where crews had to deal with large limbs from trees that were breaking off all around them, making restoration tough. The snow was between six and eight feet deep, and snow shoes were a necessity. One crew used a sled to move a transformer into a remote area to restore service to customers.
January was also a busy month for our contractors in the Reno/Tahoe area. At the peak, there were 10 line crews in North Lake Tahoe and an additional two in South Lake Tahoe, from Par Electric, Titan of Reno and Summit Line. Some of the crews spent as many as 12 days trying to restore power to Liberty Utilities’ 56,000 customers. At one point, all 35,000 customers in North Lake Tahoe were out of power for 22 hours when the feeds into NV Energy’s substation that feeds Liberty were all down.
Rosedin is trying to start a job in Sparks, NV for Apple, but has been getting rained/snowed out for a couple of weeks now. They plan on doing some work this week with the foreman and an operator, but for now they are just shaking out materials and such. They are waiting on Q&D to do the foundations for the new switch gear. It sounds like they are going to sub out the buss work and buss welding to PAR. The foreman thinks the job will take approximately three to four weeks.
PAR is working on a back yard 4KV cutover job in Reno, and Titan is keeping busy with miscellaneous work that NV Energy is providing to them. Wasatch has broken their dock crews up into dock hands on NV Energy property until the work picks back up in the spring. They have one crew that we are trying to locate doing a re-conductor somewhere outside of Yerington.
Every member who works in this jurisdiction should be familiar with the working rules and conditions. We are finding more and more that individuals are attempting to cut their own deals or threatening to walk if they are not paid above what’s in the contract. This really comes to the surface during storm work. Members need to understand that the customer knows what’s in that agreement, and will deny the charges to the contractor. Threatening to walk or strand those contractors without adequate manpower hurts everyone; the customer, the contractor, the union, the co-workers and the people without power that are relying on us for restoration. During these storms there is plenty of work and overtime, but if you don’t want to be there, please be professional and work with the contractor to get a replacement before leaving. We work hard to ensure we have this work for our members, and this behavior is a black eye to all of us.
Contractor safety has been and will continue to be a hot topic with our members or travelers who work in our jurisdiction, and is something everyone will need to get used to. Our largest utility, PG&E, has been directed as part of a CPUC settlement to have stronger contractor oversight as it relates to safety. As part of this settlement agreement, the CPUC expects PG&E to apply the same level of safety on its contractors as they would on their own employees. We are seeing the customer actively performing jobsite crew safety audits as well as actively participate in accident investigations. The CPUC is closely monitoring this. We recently received a call from the CPUC related to an accident that took place in 2015 (before this mandate), wanting to know more about the accident as it related to violation of PG&E rules. From an electrical and OSHA standpoint, had an error in choosing the right piece of hardware not occurred, there would have not been an issue. However, the customer has a separate rule in their rule book that, if used, would have prevented the injury, and the CPUC was wanting to know why it wasn’t used at the time. The answer was simple, as the CPUC requirements on the utility had not been required at the time (although that has since changed). Everyone who works on this property must be aware that these requirements are here, and they are being checked at every turn.
We don’t have any active grievances right now, and this is in part due to the ability to quickly resolve issues as they come up. We are still having issues with contractors using Fab Techs to do Operator and Groundman work (we can only address issues that are brought to our attention). We did recently participate in a Labor Management meeting in Southern California, as they do the same when Local 1245 has issues that that go that far in the grievance process.
We currently have 341 outside line apprentices registered in our JATC program and one traveling apprentice in our jurisdiction:
- 66 Apprentices are working out of local 1245
- 187 are working out of 47
- 6 are working out of 396
- 60 are unemployed (82 are technically unemployed-but 22 can’t work)
We graduated a total of 68 apprentices to journeyman lineman and indentured 91 outside line apprentices in 2016.
- First Aid & CPR is the 2nd Saturday of every month at our Riverside and Sacramento.
- April 8 – IBEW Annual Clay Shoot: Dunnigan and Hilmar.
- April 29 – Line Clearance Soccer Tournament, Ripon
The following contractors have been organized in the last two months:
California Outside Line Agreement
- Hickman Utility
- Source Power Services, Inc.
- Utility Construction Services, LLC
Injured Workers Fund
The balance of the fund as of 12/31/16 was $1,038,174.35. In December one disability claim was issued.
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 books 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.