PG&E ELECTRICIANS SOUND OFF
They’re doing more switching—and they’d like to be paid for it.
That’s one of the issues that brought PG&E electricians on April 6 to Weakley Hall, where they sounded off on several issues that have been simmering for years. Business Manager Tom Dalzell opened the meeting by acknowledging some of the electricians’ major concerns:
It is clear that responsibilities have increased for PG&E electricians, Dalzell said, and this has given rise to some basic issues: “Safety and training—and money. How to get you more money for the work you do.”
Technology has changed in the field, PG&E’s system has changed, and the changes are having a big impact on electricians. When responsibilities increase significantly, it’s only reasonable that compensation also increase.
“Most of the issues have been simmering for at least the last five or six years,” said Business Rep. Bob Dean during a break in the meeting. “They were brought to a head by operator consolidation—the shift of that work from operators to the electricians.”
With consolidation, electricians will be doing virtually all of the switching on PG&E’s transmission system, Dean said, “and they’re the lowest-paid switchmen doing that work.”
Training is also a concern.
“We believe they are not adequately trained to do complex switching…so we want to talk about getting better training for the switchmen,” Dean said.
The role of lead electricians is also being looked at by the union.
“The differential between them and their crews has shrunk, so we want to expand that,” said Dean. “Their duties have radically increased. They’re taking on ever more paperwork and that gives them less time to be with their crews, less time in the field, and they’re almost acting as supervisors,” which also raises compensation issues, he said.