By Ron Cochran
Republic ITS Contact Negotiations
The Republic ITS contract has been completed. We reached the wage & benefit settlement 18 months ago, although there was a language issue over portability. These issues have all been resolved.
San Francisco Trolley Agreement
We work closely with IBEW Local 6 and SFNECA to share the jurisdiction. We agreed to extend this agreement one year to mirror Local 6’s agreement. There is no work being done under this agreement at this time. As you know, if there is no work being done we have less bargaining power. Everyone feels the extension is prudent at this time.
Northern California Underground Agreement
This agreement expires in October and we are already in talks with NECA .
Henkels & McCoy Outside Line Agreement
We finalized the H&M agreement this week. The highlights are a three year agreement: 3.25%, 3.75%, 3.75% wage increases and hold the line on the Health & Welfare. New contract booklets should be completed by Sept. 1.
We are currently negotiating two first time specialty agreements. The first agreement will cover maintenance work preformed to maintain all the AMI transmitter and collector sites (hardware). There maybe some RF work involved. The second agreement would cover meter panel issues as result of the AMI process, which PG&E is responsible for. We are hoping this will create dozens of new jobs. Canus currently employs nearly 200 of our members.
We are actively negotiating a first agreement with MSTI, a gas inspection company that has been working for PG&E. We will be meeting MSTI again in early August.
We are currently meeting with LS Power to negotiate a project labor agreement for the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP). We met LS Power’s representatives for the second time on July 27. This project is mostly permitted and LS Power is securing their financing now. They hope to kick off the project in the first quarter of 2010. More detailed information can be found at//www.swipos.com/
Injured Workers Fund
The Injured Worker Fund continues to increase. As of May 22 the current balance is $82,669.73 which is up from last month’s $41,517. There were two payouts in the month of April. Both members are recovering from health issues.
We have been working with the attorney to get the Death Benefit increased from $5,000 to $10,000 as well as required filing with the IRS. It’s our vision to someday get that fund Death Benefit increased to $25,000.
We also will be accepting donations from contractors over the next 12 months, with pledges up to $87,000. Some of these donations will be realized in this month’s balance statement. We are learning a tremendous amount of information regarding the tax code involved in operating a trust fund. From conception, this fund was to help our own members through a self funded payroll deduction. This is a modern day pass the hat fund.
We have found a vendor to complete the Groundmen Flagger training online. This training can be completed through the Internet. Upon completion the Cal-Nev JATC will be reimbursing students. We also are scheduling OSHA ET&D classes June 27 & 28. These will be considered special skills calls in 2011. This class went very well and is the first of many.
We currently have less than 258 Outside Line Apprentices in the Cal-Nev JATC program. We are not planning to interview again until September of 2009 if needed. We have only 19 working in Northern California. 220 are working in Southern California and 1 working in Nevada. We currently have a few unemployed.
We continue to have jurisdictional disputes. This continues to be a bigger problem each month as the economy cools. It feels like it a full time job at this point just holding onto our work from the other Building Trades.
Vice President, Mike Mowrey attended the Central California’s monthly Organizer’s meeting in Fresno to relay the International’s message that not only should we focus on construction organizing but also on manufacturing. We also need to take a lead role in making the new green jobs our work.
We met with W.A. Chester in Washington D.C. while at the IBEW Construction Conference. They are contracting to PG&E to do Cable replacement work; however they have yet to sign an agreement with PG&E for the work. W.A. Chester is a Union Contractor on the east coast. We organized a few new contractors: VFC a special grounding and bonding contractor, J. Givoo Consultants working in Diablo Canyon doing instrument work, Silverwood Energy Inc who are working on PG&E Solar Energy work. We are working on some others as well.
The International office is gearing to start a very large campaign and is looking for volunteers to help with blitz night to do door-to-door with the unrepresented workers–forums, chat-room technologies. We feel we are at a critical point with our member base; we have to engage our younger members in any way possible.
The language in the Outside Line Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is in place and the NECA contractors have agreed to start payroll deductions as the members elect to. We traveled to Local 47’s June 20 union meeting to watch a presentation by the 401k fund administrator. If there is value we will ask for the presentation for our group. We self-presented at the July unit meeting, as the plan’s presenter had a family emergency. They will provide a plan presenter at the September unit meeting.
There are Summery Plan Changes in effect. We recently went to the appeals committee for a member and were successful in helping the member.
There is a government subsidy program for our unemployed members for COBRA payments. The government will pay up to 65% of the person’s COBRA payments for a nine-month period.
Ralph Armstrong and Liz McInnis both now have expanded assignments. Ralph continues to work on the local’s safety program and different FR clothing programs. Liz has four new utility assignments in the Oakland, CA. area. We are also participating in staff training. We recently have taken some Microsoft Excel software training and are currently taking Spanish lessons in the evenings after work. We have a growing Spanish-only speaking membership in several of our work groups.
Ron Cochran is Assistant Business Manager for IBEW Local 1245.