Over the past several years, IBEW 1245 has been working diligently to keep Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) open and protect the jobs of the 600 Local 1245 members who work there.
As part of this effort, we spent the better half of 2016 lobbying the members of the State Lands Commission — the body that would make the final decision on extending the lease at DCPP. If the Lands Commission were to vote against extending the lease, the plant could close down as early as 2018.
I personally spent several hours with Commission members Gavin Newsom and Betty Yee, discussing the economic and environmental impacts of a precipitous shutdown, and underscored the many benefits that DCPP has offered our state during its decades of operation. Our members and community allies also took action, sending letters to the Commission and signing our petition to demonstrate the grassroots support that DCPP has in the San Luis Obispo community.
As we were working, PG&E informed us that they were attempting to build a coalition to reach a deal to stave off an abrupt shutdown of the plant, and in order to achieve this goal, the company would not be seeking re-licensing of Diablo Canyon after the current licenses expire in 2024-2025. PG&E cited market conditions — not the once-through cooling issue that had previously been mentioned – as the primary reason they would not be seeking re-licensing. They argued that our state’s energy policy simply does not favor base load plants such as Diablo Canyon.
Once we knew of the company’s intentions, we immediately went to work on retention, and focused on finding ways to keep our members on the job for as long as possible.
In mid-June, the deal came together to keep Diablo Canyon open for the next eight to nine years. As part of this deal, the union negotiated a generous retention package for IBEW members at DCPP, which includes a 25% annual bonus, followed by a severance allowance.
Given the conditions that we faced, I believe this is a positive outcome.
On June 21, we went to DCPP to explain the package to our members. I was joined by PG&E CEO Tony Earley, President Geisha Williams, Senior Vice President Helen Burt, HR VP Mary King, and Chief Nuclear Officer Ed Halpin. Our members asked great questions, and the retention agreement was well-received.
Thanks to the hard work of our union staff, our members at Diablo Canyon (especially Kevin Garduno and the rest of the Keep Diablo Canyon Open Committee) and our allies, on June 28, the State Lands Commission voted to extend the lease and keep DCPP operational until its licenses expire.
We quickly finalized a letter agreement to cement the retention package, and IBEW 1245 Senior Assistant Business Manager Bob Dean returned to Diablo Canyon in early July to explain the agreement and answer any additional questions.
I do not believe there can ever be a sustainable energy economy that is based on a disposable workforce. That’s why we fought so hard to protect our members. Together with the long transition and the very strong retention package, we will be able to keep our members on the job for as long as possible. This is a victory in our ongoing struggle to make sure middle class jobs are a central part of the emerging clean energy economy.
Right now, the best thing we can do is to focus on our jobs, and work professionally and safely. I look forward to answering your questions and working together to make this transition a smooth one.
–Tom Dalzell, IBEW 1245 Business Manager