Work has broken loose for Outside Line. We dispatched over 40 members in one day recently. We continue to dispatch large volumes of members to many different Distribution and Transmission projects. The substation work is also ramping up slowly; there will be a large volume of work as the summer load reduces. As anticipated, we are having some issues with project materials being delivered in a timely manner. There are a few cases where the members have lost a day’s work here and there because of this issue.
This is a rough forecast of the work that is being released at the time:
On the Transmission and Substation projects, around 250 members currently are working. PG&E requested the contractors increase strength by 200 workers. They will want the contractors to increase roughly the same amount in August and September. The man-hours worked should peak in October and then start to ramp down in November. We are told PG&E would like to retain 10-20 crews through the wet months for some “time and material” work and to be available for storm work.
On the distribution pole replacement work it is also ramping up at a steep curve. We understand they will continue to release work, ramping up and peaking in the October and November time frame and then ramp down to a small work force by the end of the year.
We have “Travelers” here and more coming from as far as the East Coast to sign Book II and man this work. We all hope the work holds long enough to make it worth their trip. Times are really tough in many areas of the country as you know. We are seeing more linemen traveling with their whole families than in recent years. This was more common a couple of decades ago.
As all the Local members know, PG&E construction specifications are very different from most places. Please take a little extra time to help the Travelers get up to speed with the construction standards. We all may be trying to work in their jurisdiction someday and need a little extra help ourselves. Please take extra care in following the safe work procedures; our safety record is far better than the customers that we work for and it helps to keep us all working.
Steward Training Seminars
Business Representatives Ralph Armstrong, Mark Rolow, and I are actively traveling to all the jobsites and appointing shop stewards during this surge of work. Some of the new stewards will be “Travelers.” Near the end of August or the beginning of September we will hold a short shop steward training to insure all stewards have clear understanding of the way business is conducted in Local 1245. It will probably be condensed to 4 to 6-hour training seminars and likely be done on an off workday to accommodate the members and the contractors. We don’t wish to disrupt the work week. We may need to hold more than one training to accommodate everyone’s commute. We will cover the basics mostly as a refresher course, “Know Your Contract”, “Steward’s Roles and Responsibilities”, “Seven Tests of Just Cause”, “Weingarten Rights”, and the “Grievance Procedure.”
Sad to Report
- OSL member Wade Sanchez lost his 29-year-old wife. Mrs. Sanchez passed in her sleep.
- Construction member Jason Saavedra lost his 8 year-old son.
- IBEW Construction member Vince Donnelly succumbed to cancer.
There’s a lot to share. There have been two recent bids from WAPA. Both projects are transmission projects. We have met with WAPA over the last year regarding the use of union labor, project labor agreements, and Presidential Executive Order from President Obama. WAPA has not been willing to commit to the development of Project Labor Agreements. We are saddened that WAPA is not following the President’s Executive Orders. Both projects fall under the Davis-Bacon Rules and require the use of prevailing wage determinations.
Our California Outside Line Agreement is closely aligned with the prevailing wage determination although there are differences. On the first project we negotiated a letter agreement matching the prevailing wage with all the signatory contractors to make them more competitive with other non-union bidders. We were able to secure this work and Wilson Construction won the first bid. That project is being constructed now. This caused huge issues with the Local 1245 members. The feeling was that the Local 1245 staff negotiated this agreement unnecessarily. That mirroring the prevailing wage determination was not necessary. There was so much negative outcry and pressure from the construction membership that we opted not to pursue the same agreement in the second bid. The second bid was awarded to a non-union contractor. This of course triggered a whole series of other problems. Under Tom Dalzell’s leadership we have increased market share to nearly 100% on the transmission line and distribution line projects. We are unaware of any other local in North America that can make that claim.
So back to the non-union contractor that won the second bid. We tried diligently to contact this contractor with phone calls, emails, registered letters, etc., all with no response. Local 1245 also represents the WAPA labor force, which were not happy about the non-union contractor working on the property. We started building an organizing plan for the non-union contractor. We were able to locate the non-union crew working on the WAPA line. Communications Director Eric Wolfe was able to obtain key photographs of the linemen working.
This was no small thing. Eric had to hike through private ranch land in the Maxwell, CA, area during the heat of the day with all of his equipment and not knowing how these linemen would respond. The pictures were key in getting the attention of this non-union contractor. Everyone that helped will be credited at the end of this article. We are acknowledging Communications Director Wolfe for the personal dedication as a trade unionist and a true believer in the labor movement.
We were able to meet the non-union contractor in the weeks following in the state of Utah. It turned out to be two non-union contractors. We participated in two days of negotiations and signed both contractors to collective bargaining agreements. One of these contractors currently has work in Southern California and we are working with Local 47 to help organize this contractor there, also.
We would also like to acknowledge IBEW Locals 47, 57, 291, 396, 659, Mountain States JATC, Cal-Nev JATC, and our NECA partners for all their help. A special thanks to Local 57 Business Manager, Byron Nelson, for allowing Local 1245 to use their office space and staff for these negotiations. Local 57’s administration staff was typing the contracts as we negotiated them.
We would also like to thank our staff at Local 1245 for their office and field support. We had several staffers staged in the field monitoring the then non-union contractor, and folks in the office handling logistics. Although there was a positive result from these efforts it could have easily gone the wrong direction. This may have all been avoided if all our members understood the prevailing wage determination issues on government projects. If WAPA would comply with President Obama’s Executive Order on Project Labor Agreements this wouldn’t have even happened. This all falls on our shoulders to educate our members through membership development and to push hard with WAPA to comply with our US President’s Executive Orders.
- Helicopter Long Line status: we are 95% complete with the program rules which state all companies will provide site training, however, the general training and curriculum is all that remains. The Letter of Understanding is posted.
- Changes to the Local Union 1245 IBEW Dispatch Policy. The changes reflect the extension of dispatch hours when needed to fill all the calls.
- There is a new classification called Fabricator in the Outside Line agreement by Letter of Understanding. The Letter has been posted.
- The California DIR Prevailing Wage Posting is late again. We are working DIR to get the rates posted in August.
- We are also researching a way members can join our unit meetings remotely thru webinars or webcasts using their laptops from their motel rooms or RV parks. We will have members working from Eureka to Bakersfield over the next few months; this would be a way to get the information to the member first hand.
- CAL-NEV JATC, we currently have over two hundred in the apprenticeship program. We are currently interviewing applicants. There were 722 qualified applications and over 600 have been interviewed in the last several weeks. Business Reps Ralph Armstrong, Mark Rolow and I have been sitting on the interview board. Business Reps Rolow and Elizabeth McInnis both attended the recent annual apprentice meeting and picnic in Ontario, CA.
- All the construction staff will be attending Campaign and Mobilization training in the month of August. We will all be working hard to defeat Meg Whitman in the Governor’s race, as she is trying to destroy our way of life.
- Business Rep. Liz McInnis will be back working full time in the construction department as of Aug. 30. This will help a lot.
Linemen Book 1: 22
Linemen Book 2: 115
Linemen Book 3: 7
Linemen Book 4: 116
Groundman Book I: 13
Groundman Book II: 10
Groundman Book III: 152
Groundman Book IV: 129
Line Equipment Man Book I: 14
Line Equipment Man Book II:20
Line Equipment Man Book III: 9
The local dispatched over 260 members in the months of June and July.
Ron Cochran is Senior Assistant Business Manager, IBEW 1245.