Business Manager Tom Dalzell has negotiated a historic Memorandum of Understanding with PG&E that unionizes all routine line clearance tree trimming on PG&E property. As a result of this ground-breaking agreement Local 1245 will gain several hundred new members. We’ve heard reports that many of these non-union workers are working for less than half the wage rate of Local 1245 tree members, with no benefits. Having low-wage workers doing similar work in our territory puts downward pressure on union wages, so this agreement is an important step in protecting the wages and standard of living of our current tree trimmers. The agreement appears at the bottom of this story.
Asplundh Tree Expert – The next GRC meeting is slated for Nov. 29. All open and pending grievances will be heard; these are termination and suspension type grievances.
Trees Inc. – We were informed the company was issued the work at Turlock Irrigation District. This work is set to begin after the first of the year. This will amount to four crews working at the district year round. The next GRC date is forthcoming. We hope to meet during the month of December.
Davey Tree Surgery – Grievance activity has started to pick up. We are getting complaints of employees not acquiring Line Clearance Cards. This was a topic at the GRC held on Nov. 14. We also have a termination case we are preparing for Federal Mediation.
Davey was informed their services were no longer going to be needed at Turlock Irrigation District.
We are also dealing with pay rates for Davey Tree Surgery Redwood Region members working in the East Bay Region regarding pay rate issues.
Wright Tree – We held a GRC on Nov. 16. All open matters were discussed at this meeting as well as all labor-management matters, including the subcontracting letter from PG&E to all contractors in the system. All contractors shall have 30 days to comply with this PG&E mandate. Contractors performing normal routine work shall be required to pay prevailing wages & benefits (union).
Wright Tree Service was reported to be as much as 17% behind schedule. The company reported they were making progress until the forecast surged. This has led to increased pressure for production. There have also been disagreement between the company and the union relative to rest periods. We are working through this issue at this time.
Mountain Firewood Enterprises – We have received and are dealing with wage progression and Paid Time Off (PTO) issues.
Family Tree Service – Family Tree has been having some difficult understanding their obligations concerning meal expense and time to take meals on emergency call outs. We are still in discussion.
The Tree Trimmers in Humboldt and Lake Counties have expressed interest in having their own unit meetings.
Training was held at Weakley Hall for the Tree Trimmer peer-to-peer stewards. The name of their group is “Keep the Clearance.” The training was a huge step forward for this group. They now can have a positive influence on safety in their workplaces, beyond what is provided by company policies.
Progression and penciling of trees are issues that never seem to go away, we continue to deal with them.
Historic PG&E MOU (Full text)
Memorandum of Understanding
Vegetation Management Work
PG&E and IBEW Local 1245 have a shared interest in providing safe and reliable gas and electric service to PG&E’s 15 million customers. IBEW Local 1245 is committed to supporting the Company’s request for funding from the California Public Utilities Commission to support the safe operations of its gas and electric infrastructure.
PG&E’s Vegetation Management Program is one of the important programs that ensure the safe and reliable transport of gas and electricity throughout the PG&E service territory. PG&E is committed to using qualified contractors and subcontractors signatory with IBEW Local 1245 to perform vegetation management work. The Company and Union recognize that there may be a limited number of exceptions to this policy as noted below:
- Use of certified timber fallers for the commercial harvesting of trees
- Herbicide application
- Right of way (ROW) clearing
- Weed abatement
- Helicopter timber operations
- Stump grinding
- Unusual debris removal (e.g. Palm Trees considered a hazardous material)
- Bio waste disposal
- Equipment transport (lowboy tractors)
- Crane operations
- Landscape and property maintenance
- Specialized skills or equipment (e.g. road grader to gain access to worksite)
- Hazard trees, commonly referred to as “facility protect” trees
The Company will make every effort to use IBEW-signatory contractors to address urgent needs that may arise due to hazardous conditions, non-compliance or regulatory mandates/audits. However, if insufficient union-signatory contractors are available, the Company may supplement union contractors with non-union contractors to address the urgent issue after notifying the Union. For example, the recent Chips fire required the removal of 15,000 burned/damaged trees that were in danger of falling on PG&E electrical lines. Available union contractors have been deployed, however they have been supplemented with non-union contractors due to the urgency to complete this project. The Company will ensure that any non-union contractor that is utilized in these situations provides certified payroll records indicating they are paying the union prevailing wage and benefit rate.
While PG&E will work with the vegetation management contractors to balance the workload throughout the year, some peak work cannot be avoided. In lieu of IBEW-signatory vegetation management contractors hiring and subsequently laying off employees, vegetation management contractors may temporarily supplement their crews with a non-union contractor for up to 30 days.
This agreement will be effective immediately and will remain in effect during the term of the 2014 General Rate Case.