Union raises new doubts about seriousness of ‘Up From the Ashes’ trial lawyers’ coalition suing single defendant for last October’s fires
SACRAMENTO (Aug. 8, 2018) — At a lobbying event entitled “Fire Victims Day at the Capitol” today, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 Senior Assistant Business Manager Bob Dean expressed support for all victims’ voices in California’s worsening wildfire crisis, which just days ago broke last year’s record for the largest blaze in recorded state history.
IBEW Local 1245 members are themselves grieving the loss of Jairus Ayeta, a brother union member and PG&E apprentice lineman who lost his life in a vehicle accident last Saturday while working to restore power near the Carr Fire in Shasta County. Originally from Kampala, Uganda, Jairus was based in Davis. He was 21 years old, and a well-regarded, enthusiastic hard-worker believed to a bright future.
“In the midst of loss ourselves this week, none of us at IBEW — no one ever, frankly — can diminish the gravity of losses wildfires continue to cause,” Dean said. “For us at Local 1245, it strengthens our resolve to keep up California’s fight against climate change — to keep decarbonizing energy, bringing renewables online, and fighting for the strong, stable utilities California needs to fulfill its clean energy promise. We know most of today’s victims and survivors have different views, but we acknowledge their voices are legitimate in this debate, and in ways far beyond the narrow self-interest of the sponsoring funders.”
The sponsor of today’s Fire Victims Day, “Up From the Ashes,” is wholly funded by trial lawyers suing PG&E over wine country fires last October. In May, IBEW 1245 clashed with the group, filing a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission that charged “Up From the Ashes” with “shadow lobbying” to influence state officials by purporting to represent wildfire victims. But IBEW 1245’s Dean today raised new doubts about the hidden agenda of “Up From the Ashes,” whose superficial interest in state legislation increasingly looks like a stage prop for its trial positioning.
“Back in April, ‘Up From the Ashes’ bought full-page newspaper ads to defend state liability laws, to deny climate change has a role in wildfires, and to blame a culprit they were suing,” Dean said. “At the time, it seemed like they cared about state policy. Yet in roughly 3,000 wildfires since then — with countless fires for defending liability laws, and all kinds of culprits to blame — its public policy advocacy always seems to be about its own lawsuit. We always knew ‘Up from the Ashes’ had a narrow, self-interested agenda, but it may be narrower and more self-interested than we’d realized.”