Change was on the agenda at the recent IBEW Utility Conference in Denver, Co.: economic change, political change, and climate change.
The economic downturn has led to an upswing in recessionary bargaining during contract negotiations. Industrial load for utilities is down, which has led to declines in revenue from industrial customers, according to a workshop attended by Local 1245 Vice President Art Freitas.
The political landscape has changed in a fundamental way after the 2008 election produced majorities in Congress that are much more sympathetic to labor. President Obama has given labor unions a seat at the table. Protecting those Congressional majorities in 2010 will be essential to protecting our back as the economy struggles to recover.
Climate change is an unavoidable challenge going forward. Solutions discussed at the conference included energy efficiency and new technologies to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired electric generation.
The workforce is changing, too, reported IBEW Utility Department Director Jim Hunter. At electric utilities, 30-40% of the existing workforce are expected to leave by 2013.
Attending the conference for Local 1245, in addition to Freitas, were Business Manager Tom Dalzell, Southern-Area Executive Board member Mike Jacobson, and At-Large Executive Board member Mike Cottrell.