PG&E Steps Up Recruiting
PG&E wants linemen.
Faced with workforce shortages and looming retirements, California’s biggest electric utility has stepped up its efforts to recruit journeyman linemen. In cooperation with IBEW Local 1245, PG&E in August hosted three recruitment meetings—in Redding, Turlock and Sacramento.
Linemen working in Outside Construction made up a sizeable part of the audience at the Sacramento meeting on Aug. 29. PG&E was quick to point out a big advantage of working for a utility: stable employment.
When you work for a utility, you “don’t worry about someone coming in and saying the project’s been cancelled,” said Alan Lawrence, a PG&E superintendent in the Sacramento area who was a PG&E lineman before going into management.
Lawrence spent much of the meeting fielding questions from linemen who had plenty of them.
Is there a residency requirement, one wanted to know.
“No residence requirement,” Lawrence said, but troublemen need to live within 30 minutes of their headquarters.
Others asked about PG&E’s overtime rates, apprentice program, and safety practices.
Lawrence said the company had hired 139 pre-apprentices so far this year, with a goal of reaching 200. He acknowledged some past deficiencies in the apprenticeship program, but said PG&E was committed to making it a top-flight program that stresses “having pride in the lineman classification.”
“You know when you make it through you really accomplished something,” he said.
Regarding safety practices, Lawrence said the company “was going to go to continuously belted.”
During the last storm season, he noted, contractors experienced three falls among its employees while PG&E, with its continuously-belted policy didn’t have any falls.
“Fear of pain and death is what makes you climb well,” said one veteran lineman in the audience. “If you have a bucksqueeze (requirement) I’m not interested in that.” (The bucksqueeze is a fall restriction device that is designed to grip the pole if the user starts to fall.)
“We require continuously belted but not bucksqueeze,” said Lawrence. He stressed PG&E’s commitment “to making sure our employees go home (safe) at the end of the day.”
PG&E’s Eric Hecker provided handouts that explained how to apply to PG&E. He encouraged anyone who is interested in a job to frequently check the website (www.pge.com/careers/) because “open positions are being added all the time.”
The website even allows visitors to create a search engine “that will notify you by e-mail whenever a position opens” within the geographical parameters that the visitor has created, Hecker said.
He noted that the company could assist linemen with preparing their resumes, and was streamlining the hiring process.
“When you submit a resume, we really try to get the ball rolling quickly,” he said.
About 20 potential recruits attended the meeting in Sacramento. Turnout was bigger at the Aug. 22 meeting in Turlock, with about 40 attending. Scott Rose, PG&E Director of General Construction M&C presented information on current vacancies and the ease of the transition process, as well as discussing benefits such as PG&E employee discounts on gas and electricity, competitive union-negotiated wages, retirement, health care, and opportunities for advancement.