On Saturday, June 17, 2017, our union brother and Shop Steward Boris Chavez passed away after a brief battle with an unknown illness.
Brother Chavez was an Electric Distribution System Operator for PG&E and an IBEW 1245 union member since 2006. After only two years as a member, Brother Chavez became a Shop Steward, and soon became known as one of our most knowledgeable and dedicated Stewards.
Boris was a fierce advocate for our union brothers and sisters, and believed wholeheartedly in the union and the unity and protection that it provides. Boris was relied upon by members, supervisors and the Business Rep for his knowledge, level-headedness and care. Always willing and fearless to engage with management in defense of our brotherhood, and always looking forward for opportunities to improve our work environment, Brother Chavez exemplified and defined the role of Shop Steward.
Striving for excellence in all things, Boris was known for perfection in his work as a System Operator, and his work ethic was unparalleled. This trait carried over into all aspects of his life. A dedicated and loving family man, his greatest pride was his wife and two daughters, whom he could not talk about without a smile on his face.
A caring and loyal friend, Boris could be depended upon no matter how great your need might be. Fully engaged until your time of need had passed, Brother Chavez never left a task unfinished.
A loyal friend, a loving family man, and a union brother to the core. He will be sorely missed and not forgotten.
Goodbye my Brother.
–John Edwards, IBEW 1245 Shop Steward
In loving memory of Brother Chavez, we are republishing a column that Boris wrote, which appeared in the fourth quarter 2016 edition of the PG&E Shop Steward Newsletter.
My experience with PG&E and IBEW Local 1245 members started in 1979. I was six years old. My father was hired on a gas crew in San Francisco, holding the tough end of a shovel. I remember being amazed that he could work a graveyard shift and make the drive home safely. He worked hard for us, and I have always been grateful for that. By the time I was 18, my brother got himself hired on as an Apprentice Mechanic for Fleet. One day I was able to pay my Brother a visit. I found him lying on the cold concrete below a line truck, changing motor oil. Suddenly it made sense to me why my mother would always have multiple flannel shirts for him under the Christmas tree.
Fast forward 15 years, when I found myself with an Apprentice System Operator position in Concord, CA. My mentor at the time was a strong Union-minded individual, and I credit him for much of my early interest in Union matters. He connected me with a local Troubleman who doubled as a Steward, and I decided that my goal was to become a Shop Steward as well. I completed the apprenticeship in Auburn and immediately became a Steward. I was able to persuade a couple of my fellow Operators to become Stewards too. My mentality has always been to teach my kids that we need to take an active role and uphold human rights.
Within five years of being a Journeyman, I was contacted by the Union to represent Operators on the Distribution Operator Consolidation Committee. The Company had a different name for the project and a different idea of my role. I always kept my own perspective of my role and found myself constantly sitting on opposite side of the table with Management, doing my best to influence them on behalf of the needs of Union members. Those were challenging times, and as we have all seen, sometimes the Union worker perspective doesn’t align with business financial requirements.
Now that consolidation has been completed and I have returned to my System Operator position in this new environment, I find the challenges have only just begun. Between the learning curve with new technology, being understaffed and multiple bosses with new ideas, my work as a Steward has more than tripled. I hear the concerns of Union members, Operators as well as our Brothers and Sisters in the field, each and every day. My fellow Stewards and I have worked hard to get this group of Operators from different California Control Centers to stand united. We have formed our own Rocklin Unit Meeting, and we will continue to work through these times together.
As I drive home after my own graveyard shifts, I keep in mind the Union workers I have seen over the last 38 years, always remembering my commitment to my family and to my fellow Union workers.