2014 didn’t go out quietly; the end of the year brought in two big storms which required crews from all over to work through Christmas and New Years. The first storm brought a lot of rain and wind, while the second was more a cold and windy storm which downed trees and power lines all over the state. Our members and travelers assisted the utilities in our jurisdiction to restore power to their customers by working long hours through the holidays which otherwise would have been spent with their families. We would like to thank all who gave up their time during these storms to make the Holidays special for others.
Through the month of December, we logged over 6,000 miles and visited 40+ crew locations. Work remained strong through the end of the year, even without the storm, as we had several crews performing arrester compliance projects and NERC transmission work. We also had a small number of construction crews working on regular distribution projects in both California and Nevada.
By the end of 2014, our dispatch office had dispatched just over 2,500 calls with lineman seeing the bulk of those calls. We also saw an increase in the number of groundman calls being made. This could be attributed to the jurisdictional clarification we achieved with PG&E and the new joint trench agreement that replaced the underground agreement which was cancelled in 2011. 2015 is expected to be similar with regards to the number of crews working. The first quarter is remaining relatively slow as we get through the rainy season.
In 2014 we committed to reviewing the IBEW Code of Excellence with as many members as possible, and making sure everyone who takes a call through 1245 is aware that it is unacceptable for members of this Local to work unsafe. As of the last day of 2014, we have given safety orientations, discussions on unionism, and educational insight on our culture and presence in the workplace to 2,614 individuals as they passed through the hall signing the books or taking calls to work. Many who have been in the trade for any period of time at all are highly impressed that our local would invest the time and the effort on this open-door greeting and formal program to help them be professional and safe in the execution of their duties.
- Osmose had an issue with regards to paying the incorrect amounts to outside line members working on the infra-red project by misclassifying the outside construction group with the pole testing group. This error resulted in under-reporting into the pension funds. The issue is in the process of being corrected and should be resolved in January once evidence of the under-reporting is corrected. This impacted about 20 members and amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.
- We currently have two active grievances against Cupertino as a result of the recent arrestor work project. Cupertino has improperly manned crews to perform this work by not designating a foreman on each two-man crew. They also improperly released a shop steward. This grievance is moving to Step 2 since we were unable to successfully resolve the issue in the first step.
- Labor-Management meetings were held in Riverside on December 16 to address five grievances initiated by Local 47 that could not be resolved in the previous steps.
OUTSIDE LINE APPRENTICES
Over the last several years, the AJATC have had the ability to prohibit an individual member (journeyman) from working with apprentices due to unsafe acts. We have seen an increase in the use of this tool over the last couple of years and with modern technology and the ability to share this information throughout the country. It has put a lot of pressure on workers who choose to commit unsafe acts, especially if they work with apprentices. A ban on the ability to work with apprentices impacts the individual in that the current crew make-up and structures would require an employer to replace the apprentice with a higher-wage journeyman. It also notifies the employer of an issue with the individual, and in most cases, hampers the worker’s ability to maintain employment.
If someone were to find themselves in this position, the only way to have their apprentice privileges reinstated would require the journeyman to petition the area JATC where those privileges were first suspended. This may require a visit to the AJATC and the Trustees to discuss the incident(s) that led to the suspension of apprentice privileges.
As a journeyman, the primary focus should be to teach and train apprentices the correct and safe way to work. Failure to due so can have a lasting impact on the journeyman’s career, since apprentices are the future of our industry.
LINECO INCREASE SET FOR 2016
Lineco trustees agreed to a 25 cent increase to the construction rate for 2016. As of 1/1/2016, the construction hourly rate will increase to $5.25, which will bring the utility rate to $6.36 per hour (125% of construction rate).
While the current funds in Lineco are very stable, the trustees were knowingly allowing the fund to operate at a projected loss for 2015. There was concern on the potential for a more substantial increase in 2017 if the fund waited an additional year before instituting any increase. Over the past few years, the fund has seen a reserve level of a maximum of 20 months (currently, the reserve level is closer to 17 months). In projections presented at this week’s trust meeting, the fund could drop to just over 14 months by the end of 2015, and with no increase in 2016 the fund could drop to approximately 12 months. By being proactive in the increase, the fund hopes to keep from having large increases in the future. The fund also plans to maintain adequate reserve levels to protect the benefits for the participants.
As we plan for bargaining for 2017, today’s projections do show the possibility of an additional 25 cent increase but of course it is much too early to tell if that would be needed. The big factors to the potential need for an increase are the number of hours our members are working, along with the stability of the market as it pertains to our investments. The trustees are discussing other area of costs for benefits which can be reduced without major disruptions in coverage levels. All of these will determine the need for future increases.
Three contractors that are signatory to Outage agreements at Diablo Canyon Power all signed a one-year extension for the agreements that expired on December 31, 2014: BHI Energy, Inc, G4S Technology, Inc and J. Givoo Consultants.
Eppler & Eppler also signed a one-year extension for their Towing and Transport agreement with Local 1245.
In the month of December we organized the following Contractors:
- Western Land Renovators – Tree Agreement
- Rader Excavating – Outside Line Construction agreement
We continue to hear from contractors weekly hoping to win some PG&E work. With these new contractors there are always some bumps in the road as they start working and reporting; as most have not been union in the past.
We currently have 355 outside line apprentices registered in our JATC program.
- 7 traveling apprentices in our jurisdiction
- 68 apprentices are working out of local 1245
- 271 are working out of 47
- 3 working out of 396
- 20 are unemployed (7 are eligible to work)
- 51 apprentices to journeyman lineman.
- 77 outside line apprentices in 2014.