By Ron Cochran
Well, better than we planned for. The dispatcher was deep into Book II for linemen one Friday in early October, and we still had one open call for an operator that we didn’t fill. We expect a slow down when the rains come.
We have projects at both Colusa Power Plant and Humboldt Power Plant, building substations, dressing power transformers and some tower erection. We have a short T-line project being constructed in Trinity County for WAPA and TCPUD.
In the San Francisco area we have a few projects going. Shimmick is upgrading trolley circuits for the Muni, and Abbett is building a line extension on 16th Street around Mission Street. The Trans-Bay project is in full swing with several contractors working on it. WA Chester is replacing several underground oil-filled 115kv transmission circuits for PG&E. They are presently working on Bayshore Street; this is a very high profile project. Underground Construction Co. is installing a T-line conduit system between Station-X and Station-C in Oakland, CA. This is all the major work going on at this time.
The year 2010 will be slower on PG&E property than was earlier reported, but still should keep the core local workforce busy. PG&E has announced the alliances bid winners for the next three years. ARB was announced as the bid winner in PG&E’s Areas 1, 2 and 3. Diversified was announced as the bid winner for Areas 4, 5, 6 and 7. Wellington will continue to replace electric and gas meters for PG&E and increase its work force to over 400 in 2010. All the Wellington workers are IBEW members.
SMUD has bid out 558,000 electric meters to be replaced in 2010. Utility Partners of America (UPA) won the bid. We were successful in organizing UPA and we will have around 75 members on the project for 12-plus months. Nevada T-Line (SWIP) project has been pushed back. We expected this as LS Power has shared that the steel towers have not been ordered yet. We will report information on the SWIP project as we get it. We do expect a full blown jurisdiction fight with the Building Trades over the road construction and footer work.
USBR awarded a $5 million dollar transformer replacement job to a non-union contractor and WAPA has a non-union low bidder on the O’Banion substation modification work. There is also roughly 30 miles of T-line out to bid on that closes on Oct. 21. We feel all these projects are tied to the Sacramento Voltage Support (SVS) Project. We are all working hard to secure PLA’s on this work.
President Obama sent out an Executive Order in February requesting all large public works projects to be done through PLA’s. WAPA is reacting very slowly to the Executive Order. WAPA was the last employer Ralph and I worked for before working at the Local. We are exhausting every avenue, from the bottom up. The Business Manager, Tom Dalzell, is working with all top level personnel from SMUD, Washington DC lobbyists, and the IBEW International President to fix this issue. We also have a last minute Oct. 21st contingency plan.
There is some very good news. Business Manager Dalzell has signed a Project Labor Agreement with PG&E requiring all electrical work to be done with IBEW 1245 contractors. This is something no other business manager has been able to achieve. On Nov. 2, 2009 we will be jointly hosting a meeting with all signatory and non-signatory contractors working on PG&E property. The message will be delivered jointly by PG&E and Local 1245 that all contractors will have to become signatory before Jan. 1, 2010. This is likely to double or triple our work load between now and then. This will also create hundreds of new 1245 members.
Business Manager Dalzell has also secured a new PLA that will cover several new solar projects in 2010. The future looks bright for Outside work at the local union. We are also gaining hundreds of new jobs on the gas service repair work in 2010. We dispatched 121 Outside Line members and over 25 BA members for Wellington in the month of September.
The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee conference was held a couple of months ago in Ann Arbor, MI. This was the first time it was moved in 15 years.
There are many changes in the lineman apprenticeship taking place. One change is the apprentices do their homework online now with laptops.
We held interviews for several apprentice positions in September. There probably will not be any more interviews until well into the first quarter of 2010. The next trustee meeting will be Nov. 12, and will be held in Oakland, CA. All the meetings in the past have been held at the training center in Riverside, CA.
We will be meeting in Oakland so that we can have a field visit to a local diversity work ready center. We are very interested in local hires.
Business Rep. Ralph Armstrong attended Mr. Aaron Dineen’s memorial service in Northern Washington last Saturday. It was a dark day for all. Ralph reported that he was thankful he could attend as the mother and father had many lingering questions and Ralph was able to answer some of them.
As you may have heard, the Cal-Nev JATC Director has barred two journeymen from working with apprentices as a result of the recent apprentice death. This action is legal and supported by the three locals involved in the Cal-Nev JATC.
Ralph Armstrong will be out of state on union business the week of Oct. 19 for a safety conference. Our crew visits have been almost nonexistent lately as we have been dealing with all this upcoming work. Ralph spends more time now on the local’s safety issues which is good in the long term as we have our guy on the inside. Due to the travel schedules, neither Ralph nor I were able to attend the golf tournament on Saturday October 17. Even though I’m way too young to take up golf, I do enjoy the comradeship of being with our Brothers and Sisters on the course.
The construction staff is working six and seven days a week right now. Most of the Outside Line members are working long hours to complete jobs before the wet weather sets in, and the union’s construction staff is supporting all the current work and working with our utility customers for the upcoming work in 2010 through 2012. There is also a fair amount of organizing being done in between all the other activities. We are currently meeting on the Helms project and Dynergy’s Moss Landing Power Plant to organize more of the non-union outage workers.
We will return all phone messages and e-mails; it just may take a little longer to get back to you over the next couple of months. Texting works great for short questions and answers.
As of Jan. 1, 2010 you must have the OSHA ET&D 10-hour training to work in Nevada. We will be holding a class in Reno on Dec. 12 & 13 to help you. We also will be holding classes in the Vacaville office on the second weekend each month for the first 10 months of 2010. Again, this will be mandatory to work in Nevada and will soon follow in California.
CPR-First Aid cards are now required by OSHA and by our contract very soon. The on-line refresher courses will not be accepted, because OSHA doesn’t accept them. Last, we recently dispatched well into Book IV to dispatch a flagger-certified groundman. We are happy to report that the member we dispatched has made over $10,000 flagging in San Francisco in the last month. We are puzzled as to why our entire Book I, II, & III groundmen have not taken the JATC reimbursable online flagger training course to get their certificates.
Policy 22 Testing
We are seeing an increase in utility linemen wanting to obtain their Journeyman “A” Member status. Last month we tested 15 PGE employees in the Bakersfield area and granted Journeyman status to 20 current members that exceeded the Policy 22 standard. PG&E’s zero tolerance on safety issues has made some of these members inquire about their “A” membership.
I would like to thank Mr. Mark Rolow and Business Reps. Bob Dean and Ralph Armstrong for helping to proctor the testing. This testing was held on a Friday night and went to almost midnight. We anticipate seeing this trend increase with the current level of terminations that are taking place within the utility branches. We also tested two linemen last week in Vacaville under the Policy 22 rules.
Poker Chip Sets
We ordered 100 more poker chip sets for the holidays, as requested by the membership. Order forms can be downloaded from the local’s website. Its first-come, first-served, so don’t wait to fill out your order form. Please thank Business Rep. Liz McInnis for this when you see her—she did most all of the work. There was some unneeded bureaucracy leading up to the borrowing of the $8,000 capital we needed to make the order. This is cost-neutral to the local’s treasury; all monies will be repaid as the poker chip sets are sold.
We have ordered long sleeved T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts for the winter months to replenish the stock in our office display case. The order will be in soon.
Information Sharing Technologies
There are several Information Sharing Technologies we are exploring:
We just sent the second email to the Outside Line (OSL) in the beta testing phase of our effort to improve communications with our members. OSL is the first test group. In this case it’s a good thing. As you know, we sent mailings out asking for emails and cell phone (texting) numbers to build a database to send real time information to the members. The second email may have been the longest email the members will get from me.
We would like to speak about all the media technologies we are trying. Some technologies will work and be continued, and some will not and will fade away. We have had the Local’s website and OSL’s hotline for years. They aren’t going away—we are just trying to enhance and secure information related to your trade. The Local’s website is under redesign as I write to you.
Some of the information posted on the website, the Utility Reporter, or the hotline is edited down or just not posted. There are a number of reasons for this. There are times we wish to share more information but are reluctant as it may provoke other utility members to fear for their job security, which shouldn’t be the case. There are other examples where the customers and contractors monitor our postings, which may cause us to leave out certain information.
Anyway, I wanted to share the nuts and bolts of the efforts being made on our media changes.
Our reason for the e-mail effort is to have a group email setup for each work group, OSL being the first. Our vision for emails is to only have a few each month to carry larger payloads of information, such as things covered at a unit meeting. There was no capital investment for this effort. Business Rep. Leslie Asher is our IT Guru and deserves many thanks for setting up the database to be used for the email and texting platforms. We are discouraged that we sent a mailing to around 1,000 “A” members and only received 58 responses back. Again, because emails and text messages can be forwarded they will not carry sensitive information.
The second Information Sharing Technology is text messaging (txts). We received the green light to purchase a software program to blast txts to large groups. As you know, you can set groups on your phone but they are usually limited to a group of 10. We are looking to blast txts to hundreds at a time. This is a great way to get small messages to large groups all at once, real time and first hand. These messages will be 160 characters or less.
Again we only had 58 members interested to start. We are hoping that if we do a good job, to have hundreds asking to join as it is a great tool to get the information to you. This texting will be one-way—from the software out to you. There are many great uses for these communication tools. Some examples are notification of satellite unit meetings, contract negotiation updates, and other union business. It can also be used for announcements of all kinds for the members by the members.
For example, John Doe member contacts us and wants to make an announcement about an accident, or someone needing help, or the birth of future linemen, or reminders for training classes or storm work. Some txts could simply direct you to the website or our new group forum. We are planning to blast the txts before and after work, only as needed so as not to burn folks out or disrupt work. They could also be used to get safety topics to everyone’s attention before your safety meeting. We are thinking of launching the txts around 0600 and 1800.
We set up an IBEW group forum for OSL on Yahoo. This is not a place to bitch and complain. It is a place to give your opinion and express your views on a posted topic and to post a topic you feel strongly about. This forum will be monitored and moderated in the evenings and available to 1245 “A” members in good standing. No personal attacks will be allowed or posted. We will encourage strong opinions as long as they’re not personal. We will keep the posting mainly to business, safety, and event planning.
There are thousands of forum groups on the web; you can join one of them to discuss your Democratic or Republican views. Let’s just keep our local OSL forum focused on the line work.
One example would be that before long there will be 100% attachment requirement when climbing. This has been the law in Washington State for 20-plus years. PG&E had a climbing fatality in October. Every accident gets us closer to a law requiring 100% attachment. As this issue grows we will host a forum for discussion.
To join this group log on at: //finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/ibew1245group/join
Next, we are setting up blogging from our Local 1245 website. This will be in the form of a discussion group, open to participation by the entire membership. As with our OSL Yahoo group, this will not be a place to bitch and complain. It will be a place to give your opinion and express your views on a posted topic and to post a topic you feel strongly about. It will be moderated by a staff member—probably someone other than Ralph, Liz or myself.
We are researching the use of Pod Casting as a possible future communication tool.
Ron Cochran is Assistant Business Manager, IBEW 1245