by Ron Cochran
Well, work is still very good and looks to be good throughout 2014. We do see a few things on the political horizon. The old saying “Red Clouds in The Morning is the Sailors Warning”. Being the custodians of your Outside Line contract we called for a meeting and the employers to explore the pending future political issues.
On February 27, 2014 Locals 1245 and 47 jointly met with the NECA contractors and discussed upcoming industry and political issues. During that discussion ALL parties, agreed that it would be a great benefit to IBEW Members, Contractors and the Customers to extend the current California Outside Line Construction agreement for an additional two-years. The total value of the extension is 6.5%. First year total compensation of 3% and the second year would be 3.5%. Ballots were mailed out to members on March 24 and will be counted on April 14.
June 1, 2015: Add new Section 4.11b as follows: HRA: The Employer also agrees to pay into the Line Construction Benefit Fund $0.50 per hour ($0.50 is the required and maximum per hour contribution allowed) as is calculated on all hours worked for all working classifications covered by this Agreement. These contributions shall be used to provide Health Reimbursement Accounts(s) under the Line Construction Benefit Fund Plan of Benefits.
- 2% base wage increase effective June 1, 2015 for all classifications
- 3% base wage increase effective June 1, 2016 for all classifications
- Lineco contribution will increase $0.25 to $5.75 on January 1, 2016.
- NEAP contribution rate to remain the same (no increase in 2016 or 2017).
You’ll notice that one of the proposed changes is to add a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). The HRA is a new feature that Lineco offers participants that supplements the regular healthcare program and will be a great benefit for you and your family. The HRA program is funded by separate hourly contributions made by participating employers on behalf of the members. The Lineco HRA will be administered by CompuSys, Inc, (Benny Cards) a third party administrator of HRA type plans. //lineco.org/html/hspd0460.htm
We will be holding a conference call on April 3, 2014 at 7:00PM to discuss the extension and answer any questions. Dial 1-866-213-1863, when prompted enter access code 1839645#. If you can’t make the conference call, you can call, text or email Ron Cochran directly at (707) 718-3349 – email@example.com.
At this time, Locals 1245 and 47 are both endorsing a YES vote on the two-year contract extension. This contract extension would provide a secure contract with a fair equity increases through May 31, 2017.
The Master Tree Agreement, Traffic Signal Agreements are also valid through 2017. We think this is a very good approach at this time.
Atmospheric Corrosion Inspection
There has been a significant increase in the amount of new members performing the atmospheric corrosion inspection project which involves visually inspecting and documenting corrosion of every gas meter in PGE’s jurisdiction. This work and these new employees are only expected to last for a couple of months however the ramp up in new members has not come without confusion. We try to get in front of all the new members we can during the training process to explain the dues process and answer questions regarding the contract but there is still a lot of confusion and we spend a lot of time on the phone with members individually trying to address their questions and concerns. The calls are starting to slow down so we are hopeful that this is a sign that these issues are being addressed.
Continuing Education for the Construction Staff
The entire crew has been taking effective communication courses and also reading communication books. We think the courses are already paying dividends in the grievance procedure.
The entire construction crew recently toured the California Independent System Operator CALISO facility in Folsom, Ca. The tour was followed by a meeting with the Mr. Stephen Berberich, President and CEO, Mrs. Karen Edson, Vice President, Policy and Client Services and other senior staff. It was an educational and informative meeting. We are very pleased Mr. Berberich took the time to talk with us and asked us if we had concerns or opinions on a few topics. It’s a warm feeling that the Line-Workers are being noticed at most all levels these days.
On another day, Richard Ingle, Carl Lamers, Junior Ornelas and Ron Cochran attend the Department of Industrial Relations Wage Compliance Training in Concord. Later in April, Abel Sanchez, Liz McInnis and Ralph Armstrong will be attending similar training in different locations.
We deal with contract violations and grievances in their early stages on a daily basis; we have resolved them all and currently do not have any open grievances in Outside Line and the Tree’s are nearly the same, with just a couple grievances. What a great stat to report with over 5,000 members being represented in these two groups. We continue to participate in labor-management meetings; not just to discuss negative issues, but also positive issues to reinforce the communication with the contractors and customers forming alliances wherever possible. We met with Davey Tree last week and it was an extremely productive meeting, we had few issues on the table and all were resolved and the meeting concluded with an old-school handshake. We meet with the NECA contractors in the first week of April.
Richard Ingle is still pounding the pavement everyday, seeing all the crews in the California and Nevada jurisdiction. Mike Cottrell has provided the safety class and code of excellence training to 750 members so far. There has been a lot of positive feedback from members who understand what’s at stake and are aware of the role safety plays in our industry. Most of these folks are welcoming our approach to get the red book and contract back in play at the worksite. Let’s hope this program will have a positive result in keeping all aware they are responsible for keeping their fingers and toes and returning home safely at night. I think as we target the Journeymen Linemen they will start to police and enforce this commitment and bring the avoidable incidents down by leaps and bounds. Mike is still working for Wellington Energy, but on excused absence to help with this special project. Cottrell’s doing a wonderful job.
It’s business as usual for the rest of the crew, with the exception of all the special events happening in the month April. Eileen Purcell and Liz McInnis are working very hard on the preparations for both soccer tournaments. Both tournaments will have eight teams playing; youth activities and a hot lunch will be served. We are expecting 300 at the Merced tournament and nearly 400 members and family to attend the Fairfield tournament.
The Sporting Clay Shoot has really come together nicely as we have raised 70K, and expect to have a nice shoot at two locations. We have 280 shooters committed between the shoots. This event has grown 100% since last year, its very exciting news. The proceeds from the multi local Sporting Clay Shoot will be donated to local Boys & Girls Clubs.
We signed the following contractors in the month of March.
- Alternative Structural Technologies to the Hydro Maintenance and Construction agreement.
- CAL INC signed a fencing agreement
- Underground Construction and M.A. Steiner signed the Gas Inspection agreement.
2014 Training Schedule and Special Events
- First Aid & CPR is the 2nd Saturday of every month at our Riverside and Sacramento facility.
- IBEW NorCal Clay Shoot – April 5, 2014 in two locations Dunnigan and Hilmar.
- IBEW Soccer Tournaments: April 12th – Merced and April 26th, Fairfield.
Ron Cochran is Senior Assistant Business Manager