The work picture throughout our jurisdiction remains very strong with no end in sight for both California and Nevada. Throw in the Carr and Mendocino fires this summer and we have had more work than imaginable. All our members and travelers who came out to assist in those restoration efforts need to be commended for the work they did in those less-than-ideal conditions.
We have been saying for months that we are anticipating a surge in manpower, which needs to begin slowly at the end of 2018 and ramp up through 2019 so that it is in full swing by 2020. This additional work is supposed to last for the next 15 years as part of PG&E’s new fire prevention initiative. This initiative is intended to harden the PG&E infrastructure in the Tier 3 fire zones, which are the areas that pose the most risk of devastating fires. These timelines have been accelerated, starting with eight projects that have already been awarded to three contractors to design and build immediately. Par, Power Contracting and Source Power were direct awarded these projects, with more to come if completed before the end of the year. A few more contractors may possibly be brought into this work.
The manpower need for the future is real, as this fire hardening work comes in addition to the ample work we already have, and we are experiencing open calls for lineman and operators in the double digits daily. IBEW and PG&E are working together and meeting on a bi-monthly basis to think through anticipated issues with this work, as we continue to try and find ways to get this additional work done without impacting our existing projects. We are looking at all options and understanding that there is a need for linemen across the country, and the southern end of the state will also be vying for these resources as well. These are exciting times, but as always, with this intense workload and long hours, we will all need to be vigilant and ensure that safety comes first. There is no room for shortcuts!
A reminder to all that before anyone takes their first call at Local 1245, a brief safety orientation is required. Since beginning this safety orientation program around 2015, we have given literally thousands of orientations with the focus on safety, work security and some potential consequences for participating in unsafe work practices. Despite this, it seems like every month we get a few workers or groups of workers who find themselves having to meet with the examining committee to explain what happened and why. They tend to find themselves not working for a couple of weeks while we go through this process, which can become costly. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you see someone working unsafe. Outages, injuries and quality of work remain our biggest threats to our union-only requirement with our customers. The risks are definitely not worth the reward. Taking shortcuts or working unsafe — even if there’s no accident or injury — can still be costly.
- We should start to see an increase in transmission and substation work as is the norm for this time a year when the weather starts to cool off. Work is already going on at Midway, Gates, Tesla and some smaller substations.
- Cupertino Electric is looking to hire 56 of our members to work on the MHP (Mobile Home Park).
- Cupertino Electric is also in full swing in their five-year arrestor project, with five yards throughout the PG&E territory.
- Cupertino is replacing poles and reconductoring a 115-kV line near Dinuba.
- PAR is doing a tower-raising job from Buttonwillow Midway Sub to Kern Power Sub in Bakersfield.
- PAR also continues to perform tower painting work.
- Outback is currently looking for 23 groundman and operators for their Oroville project.
- Wilson has 13 distribution crews and four transmission crews.
- Underground Electric now has six crews from Santa Cruz to the North Bay.
- MGE is working on cable replacement in the National Forest near Cedar Grove.
- Intren has one distribution crew working from Fresno to Bakersfield. Most of the distribution work has slowed a bit in the Central Valley.
Local 1245 is seeing some substantial substation and transmission projects, and some good distribution work in Nevada as well.
- PAR has doc linemen in North Lake Tahoe working for Liberty Utilities and a crew in South Lake Tahoe working on new business and maintenance work on a T&E basis. The Tahoe work is here and there.
- Wasatch has 40 doc linemen working at various locations for NV Energy, which includes crews in Yerington, Fallon, Reno, Carson City and Elko working on a T&E basis. They also have five subtechs working in various locations for the substation group. NV Energy has also awarded Wasatch with a 120kV line that runs 23 miles from Lahontan Reservoir north to I-80. Wasatch also picked up a 200-pole change-out job in Winnemucca.
- Titan Wyoming should be wrapped up in the next few weeks on their 4/25kV cut over/re-conductor project in Reno. The 4/25kv cutover job off El Rancho has started and currently has one crew working. All the poles have been set and work is progressing well. Titan also picked up a 60 pole reconductor/ pole replacement job in Stead that they will roll into after the other two projects are complete. The UG replacement job in Elko is under way with the substructure install. The cable install should be taking place soon.
- Newman has picked up a small four-to-five-week distribution job in Battle Mountain. They showed up but can’t start due to lack of materials. NV Energy says it will be about a month or so before materials will arrive.
- Summit Line should complete their 120 kV, Dove to Switch line this week or next. Summit is also working on a substation project in South Lake Tahoe for Liberty Utilities, which will run into late November, early December.
- It looks like NV Energy will have more transmission work going out to bid in TRIC for Apple, Tesla and other large companies in the near future.
- Wilson is working on a small project with big challenges on Echo Summit for PG&E, replacing 5700’ of primary UG cable attached to trees. This job has very little access and climbing these huge ponderosa and sugar pines has proved to be a challenge for the crews, but I have no doubt that the guys they have out there will get the job done right.
KNOW YOUR CONTRACT
We frequently encounter basic contract issues that can be solved easily by simply looking into the agreement. Then there are times when the answer is not that simple, and help is needed. In both cases, if a member or crew is not aware of or educated in the language in the agreement, conditions can break down and, in many cases members may end up shorted on pay. With the amount of work we have going and the large number of travelers working in our jurisdiction, it is important that everyone is familiar with the agreement, so we can keep what we have negotiated in place. We are going to attempt to take sections from our contract, starting with ones we see the most issues with in the field, and try to cover them in this report.
After a circuit interruption or an accident has occurred while performing energized work, during the investigation process the crew foreman is asked what happened and what they saw. In many cases, we hear answers like, “couldn’t see it from where I was standing,” or “I was busy doing something else.” This should not be an acceptable answer, as one of the working conditions we have in this agreement requires the Foreman to be in a non-working position when members of the crew are performing energized work. This is for safety reasons. According to Section 6.2 of the agreement (Foreman):
No Working Foreman shall work when energized work is being performed on 600 volts or more by members of his/her crew.
No Foreman shall work when his/her crew is more than five (5) employees including himself, except that he may be the sixth (6th) employee when an Apprentice is on the crew.
There are many times where a rep shows up on a job and will find the foreman doing something else other than watching the crew work on energized equipment. We are finding this more and more in the field, and extra attention must be given to make sure this practice stops.
Apprentice interviews have been taking place about once a month as a result of the last open enrollment period. To date, we have completed all except for the remaining 70, which are scheduled to take place on November 8. There were roughly 800 applicants that needed to be interviewed from the last time the application period was opened, and we have taken in more apprentices this year than any year I can recall. There are 381 indentured in the program as of October 2, and a new class of 40 is scheduled for the beginning of November.
With the amount of work going on in our jurisdiction, the need to grow our own for the future has never been so important. The number of apprentices in our jurisdiction is at an all-time high, with a waiting list for more. Many groundmen who are working today and eventually get into the program are being requested to come back as an apprentice to their current employer, which reduces the numbers available on the waiting list.
The trustees have been looking for property in the north area to build a northern JATC campus, which would provide a facility that can be used all week long and allow us to increase the number of apprentices in the program. We continue to explore several properties and we are close to narrowing in on a site. With the emphasis on manpower, we can’t stand to wait much longer, as the facility in southern California is already operating at full capacity. I am confident we will have acquired a new property in the near future. Finding a place that is large enough and zoned for what we need has been a long process, but we are close!
We have been encouraging the contractors in 1245’s jurisdiction to use more apprentices as the indenturing of new apprentices is done by supply and demand. It is working and we hope that it will continue to do so.
Current JATC numbers are:
- 381 outside line apprentices registered in our JATC program (up from 344 just three months ago), and an additional 40 are going through climbing school in November
- 2 traveling apprentices in our jurisdiction
- 137 Apprentices are working out of Local 1245 (up from 114 just 3 months ago)
- 213 are working out of 47
- 8 are working out of 396
- 19 are unemployed (but 13 can’t work)
- 6 are unavailable/on a leave
- 52 apprentices have graduated to journeyman lineman
- We have indentured 86 outside line apprentices (the new climbing class begins on Nov. 2)
- First Aid & CPR is the 2nd Saturday of every month at our Riverside and Sacramento.
Please call the hotline after hours for daily counts related to actual numbers on the books.
All 1245 OSL members are encouraged to sign up and register your own personal account through the Local 1245 website. Once registered, you will be able to check your books status, make changes to personal information, pay union dues and even check on available jobs without having to call the dispatch office for this information. This is a very useful tool for our OSL members.
We continue to have standing calls for Journeyman Lineman, many of which are paying double subsistence. Please call the hotline for details on all available calls!
Dispatch Call Counts