Just about every electric service provider would be unable to maintain reliable service without well-crafted switchgear. The critical, complex components are in high demand, and the IBEW 1245 members at Trayer Engineering are hard at work every day, manufacturing a wide variety of safe, reliable switchgear products for hundreds of utility and power distribution companies worldwide.
The technology and products offered by Trayer Engineering (“Trayer”) cover the entire spectrum of low -to-medium voltage operation. Trayer specializes in storm hardened, submersible and vaultmount equipment, as well as padmount versions. High levels of automation and SCADA capability are the hallmarks of Trayer’s designs.
The Local 1245 members who work at Trayer are involved in every step of the manufacturing process, from assembly to painting. They appreciate the fact that the company is a good union employer with a solid relationship with the IBEW, and they take great pride in the work that they do as Trayer employees.
20-year IBEW member Ruben Hernandez serves as head painter at the plant, and is involved in many of the finishing aspects, from the painting itself, to the application of decals and nameplates. He explained how the finishing process has changed over the years since he first started at Trayer.
“We used to use an apoxy, which was high VOC – that means it had a lot of volatile organic compounds. But a few years ago, we changed it up to water-based,” he explained. “We also switched over to stainless [steel casings], which has made the painting process quicker and easier, just one coat instead of four.”
Electrical Assemblyperson Logan Crump explained his role in the assembly process as he took a break from working on an automatic transition switch for one of Trayer’s utility customers.
“I work in the final test area. We do the final testing of all the switches that go through the shop. Kind of like quality control in a way,” said Crump, a five-year IBEW member. “I work with one other person, and we are the last to see [these devices] before they go out the door.”
“The Union’s Got Our Back”
The Local 1245 members at Trayer (who were formerly represented by Local 2131 before the merger in 2014) recognize the value of having union wages and benefits in the San Francisco area, where cost of living has continued to rise.
“I’ve been in the electrical industry for 35 years, but this is the first union shop I’ve worked for,” said John Lightning, an electrical technician who started working at Trayer last year, after spending over 20 years working in Australia. “I’m glad the union’s here. It’s good for everybody. It gives us all a voice, and it gives us things that we need to live, like medical [insurance], because it’s expensive around here!”
Crump recalls the vital role that the IBEW played during the last round of contract negotiations.
“The union really stuck with us when we were going through some rough times here. They helped us get our contract so that we could solidify our jobs and keep on working here,” he said.
“I like having the union here, they really support us,” Crump continued. “A lot of times where I’m wearing my union sweatshirt out, people will come up to me, shake my hand and say ‘Hey, how ya doin’ brother?’ and that’s nice. The union is always supporting us; they make us feel welcome wherever we go. And with the union, we know that someone’s always got our back.”
–Rebecca Band, IBEW 1245 Communications Director
Photos by John Storey