On Thursday, October 19, PG&E’s aerial patrollers voted to join IBEW 1245 in a secret ballot election. All members of the unit participated, and the vote was a unanimous Yes.
“We are excited to move ahead and continue this journey,” said Paul Bonini, one of the seven aerial patrollers. “I am also very glad that our team came together to all vote in favor.”
Aerial patrollers perform airborne monitoring of PG&E’s gas distribution/transmission system, which is an integral part of protecting public safety. Their home base is the Bishop Ranch campus in San Ramon; flights are conducted out of the Buchanan Field Airport in Concord.
The patrollers utilize Light Detection and Ranging technology a.k.a LiDar to identify and report a variety of observations, which are then investigated by ground patrollers (which is already a 1245-represented classification). According to the company’s website, PG&E’s aerial patrols exceed the mileage required by the Code of Federal Regulations by 4.5 times on average, which in 2016 added to over 123,000 total miles. Prior to 2017, the aerial team was employed by a contractor, however PG&E brought them all on as bona fide employees in January.
“I am very grateful to work for Pacific Gas and Electric. The extensive and positive history the IBEW has with PG&E made this an easy decision for me,” said Bonini.
He expressed that his main motivation for organizing was to take advantage of the greater voice at work that IBEW members enjoy. Fellow Aerial Patroller Daniel Gadek echoed these sentiments.
“I have wanted to join IBEW Local 1245 because it has a long history of working for the common man. I believe it will give our team a collective voice and a seat at the table in regards to safety, wages, [and] scope of work,” said Gadek. He and his coworkers hope to clarify proper lines of progression in bargaining, and aspire to improve their team’s workflow by better outlining their individual duties and job descriptions.
“Our team has been through a lot and grown tremendously over the past four years,” he added, and says they are ready to head forward “in the hopes that we will have some say over our careers and our futures.”
–Rick Thompson, IBEW International Lead Organizer