An important message from IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell
As you have probably heard, the United States Attorney’s office in San Francisco issued further, more serious indictments against PG&E in the week of July 28, arising out of the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno. Nothing we know suggests that the criminal prosecution will succeed, but I am not writing about guilt or innocence. I am writing about the new indictments and their impact on PG&E and our members.
The wisdom of our members in overwhelmingly approving a one-year extension of the contract cannot be denied. I used the term “toxic” to describe the environment for general negotiations at PG&E in May, and now it is even more so. With the unrelenting attacks and the continued failure by the Public Utilities Commission to resolve the issue of the civil fine, I believe even more strongly than I did several months ago that our members would not be well served by full-blown general negotiations with the company this fall.
A very small but very vocal minority of Californians hope that the PUC fines and criminal penalties will be excessive and crush PG&E. Of course a penalty of some sort is appropriate, but if PG&E is crippled or destroyed, the impact on our members will be painful. We have built the best investor-owned utility collective bargaining agreement in the western United States, and I do not want to see the decades of incremental progress that have gone into making the contract wiped out. Financial calamity for PG&E will translate into hardship for us.
We are using our forensic accountants to gauge the impact of the indictments on PG&E in the market, and we are carefully monitoring press coverage of the indictments. These are difficult times, and difficult times are best survived by studied, rational action, not by rash, emotional reactions. We have a very good contract. We are keeping it intact. Negotiated wages have outstripped inflation, and will this year. Progress is being made in ad hoc negotiations department by department.
What you chose to do was the right thing.