The work picture has been very strong with not much end in sight. There are currently 250 electric contract crews on PG&E’s property, and the talk is to ramp up to 500 crews towards the end of the year. One of the biggest issues that everyone is experiencing is the inability to get enough work packages out to the 250 crews that are currently on property. This created a small slowdown in the amount of dispatches and crew build-ups over the first couple of weeks in July, but thoughts are things will pick back up shortly, especially if they plan on achieving the 500 crews they state are needed for next year’s work.
This has not slowed down the number of people showing up at the hall and signing the books. Over the last three months, we have seen a record number of linemen from all over the country traveling to California to chase this work. Mondays seem to be the busiest, with lineman who traveled through the weekend to get here lining up around the building, waiting to get in. There simply isn’t enough room in our dispatch office to handle these crowds, so we have had to provide paperwork that is numbered on a first-come first-serve basis to these linemen, and we bring them into the dispatch office in groups of 5 to 10 at a time to sign and provide their documentation. This has also delayed a lot of the dispatching on those mornings as we try to make sure everyone who was there before 9am gets entered in the system and receives their safety orientation so they are eligible for calls on that day.
We’ve had roughly 4,500 people referred out of Local 1245 Outside Line dispatch since January 1 of this year. Our dispatchers have been extremely busy, and as a result, we’ve needed to make some adjustments to our dispatch hours of operation. Our dispatchers are now able to assist members from 7am to 9am. At 9am, the dispatch window will be closed and will not open again until one of the dispatchers completes their calls, or 1pm. This new policy is an attempt to have everyone who was there before 9 am, along with all the new manpower requests, entered into the system, in order to have the dispatchers making calls as close to 9am as possible, and have everything completed by 5pm.
All the required inspection work in the fire zone areas has been completed, and much of the work that is being done now is related to repairing what was found during the inspection. There are crews doing fire hardening work as well, and a lot of other maintenance work outside of the fire areas. We don’t see any slowdown in work anytime soon, with projections of 10-15 years’ worth of work. Currently most crews are working 6-7 days a week, 12 hours a day, with a $200-a-day per diem. There are also an unprecedented number of contractors working in California, with many calling daily inquiring about becoming signatory.
The Paradise rebuilding efforts will soon be underway with current estimates of approximately 1.7 billion dollars to put everything underground. There are several contractors bidding this project, and we hope to find out soon who the successful bidder(s) are.
We also have lots of work currently taking place and lots of work out to bid in Nevada. It looks like some of the surrounding utilities are following suit and beginning to look at doing some fire hardening in the wake of the fires in PG&E’s territory.
PAR has doc crews and linemen in North & South Lake Tahoe working for Liberty Utilities. PAR has recently completed their 4/25 KV cutover work in Reno.
Wasatch has 40+/- doc linemen working at various locations for NV Energy. Wasatch also has a doc crew in Yerington & Winnemucca. There are 10+/- sub techs working for NV Energy’s substation group all over the system. Wasatch has completed the 23 miles of 120 KV rebuild from Lahontan to Interstate 80.
Titan has been working their UG job pulling and splicing Million MCM feeder for a new back tie in Lemmon valley which is moving along. Titan is also working on a transmission project in Reno out of the Mira Loma sub, approximately three miles, changing out wood poles for steel and reconductoring. This project is well under way and should wrap up by early August. Titan has also landed a job at the Pumpkin Hollow Mine in Yerington that should start soon.
TW Powerline has picked up a pole replacement job for Truckee Donner PUD and will have one crew working on that project.
Summit has picked up a small substation in Sparks for the Fulcrum biofuels plant and subsequent transmission line to feed it as well. The transmission line is only a real short section to tie into the existing line just outside of the plant.
Newman is near completion on two 4/25KV cutover projects in Reno, and Cache Valley has completed a project for Mt. Wheeler in Lund, NV.
Everyone who has taken a call from Local 1245 over the last five years or so has had to sit through a short safety orientation that basically goes over their responsibilities and (besides the obvious) what can happen if they are terminated for a safety violation. We need to remind our members as well as all the travelers working here that it’s their responsibility to know the contract and safety rules at Local 1245. We continue to see a rash of safety violations that have ended up with IBEW members receiving 30 or more days off and required training before being able to take another referral. A restriction here is also a restriction at Local 47 as both local unions work closely and share this information. We have been very close but fortunate that we have not had any life-threatening injuries. Please be safe, as we are our Brothers Keepers.
New “A” Membership
We currently have 35 members in different stages of the process, seeking to obtain “A” status as a Journeyman Lineman. This process has tripled due to PG&E filing for bankruptcy. Obtaining this status is very affordable, and with it comes a small pension, an additional life insurance policy and the ability to sign the books anywhere in the country if needed. With the increased numbers of members applying, please allow a little extra time for approval, and if someone has plans to leave a utility and only has a “BA” membership we encourage them to not wait until the last minute for this. Operator and Fab Tech applications are also being turned in at an increased rate due to all the work we currently have.
Organizing is ongoing, with several new contractors contacting us on how to become signatory. Below are some of the new contractors that were signed since January 1, 2019:
CA Outside Line Construction Agreement:
- Shermco (Substation)
- Outsource Utility Contractor Corp. (OSL)
- C&C Utility Inc. (OSL)
- Mesa Pacific Power (OSL)
- Calburton Inc. (Gas)
- ICON Utility Services (OSL)
- TW Power Line Construction (OSL)
When the CalNev JATC opened the application process in February, there were over 800 applicants that qualified for the next step. In August, we will have completed all the interviews and have everyone ranked. Shortly after that we will be looking to open up the application process again. The JATC has been running climbing schools almost weekly and have more apprentices in its program now than at any other time since it started.
With all the extra work in California and the demand for manpower it is always better to grow your own. Currently there are 556 outside line apprentices registered in our JATC program with 62 traveling apprentices working in our jurisdiction. We are on pace to have close to 700 apprentices in the program by the end of 2019.
As of the end of July:
- 214 Apprentices are working out of local 1245
- 313 are working out of 47
- 18 are working out of 396
- 0 are unemployed
- 7 are not available to work for various reasons
- 4 are on a leave
We have graduated 51 apprentices to journeyman lineman this year, and we have indentured 196 outside line apprentices this year.
New Facility Update
In our last report, we mentioned that the current facility in Southern California is running at capacity and the trustees have been looking for land in Northern California. It was also reported that we had 8.3 acres in Vacaville in contract for a Northern Facility. During the 90-day disclosure period, we found some environmental issues that were of a concern and could have delayed the construction of the facility for more than a year. It was decided to move on from that property and see what else we could find. Sunsequently, we found a facility in Woodland that would have worked perfectly, and we were negotiating with the owners. We had reached the point where everything was addressed, and at the 11th hour they decided to pull the property off the market. We are still working with the owners, but looking again. We also know that we need something now to handle the increased numbers of apprentices and work in Northern California. We are currently working on leasing a facility in Sacramento that can be used all week if needed until we can lock down the land we need to build a new one.
The JATC is in need of instructors in Northern California and will be looking to hire a full-time instructor up north in the near future. If you are interested in teaching, please contact the CalNev JATC.
First Aid & CPR is the 2nd Saturday of every month at our Riverside and Sacramento.
Know Your Contract
Every month we run into many basic contract issues with simple solutions that members can find for themselves by looking into the agreement. Then there are times when the answer is not that simple, and additional help is needed. In both cases, if a member or crew is not aware of or educated in the language in the agreement, conditions are broken down and, in many cases, members find themselves being shorted on pay. With the amount of work we have going and the large number of travelers, it is important that everyone is familiar with the agreement, so we are able to keep what has been negotiated in place. We are going to attempt to take sections from our contract — starting with ones we see coming up most often in the field — and try to cover them here.
With all the overhead distribution work going on in the jurisdiction, it is important for everyone to know the requirements around manning crews for different types of work. This information can be found in Article VI of the agreement — specifically 6.9, Manning Line Crews. The agreement is clear, especially while performing energized work on lines and equipment of 600 volts and more, what the crew make-up should be under (b) below. This seems to be the section that gets questioned a lot, especially from workers that are new to the area.
MANNING LINE CREWS
6.9 (a) The erection of poles by hand and the stringing of all wire shall be done by regularly constituted line crews consisting of Foreman, Linemen, Groundmen, or Apprentice Linemen. Tamping and Line crews shall consist of Foreman, Lineman, Groundmen or Apprentice Linemen. In such crews the majority of men shall be Linemen, Foreman included.
(b) When energized work on lines or equipment of 600 volts or more is performed except as noted in paragraph (c) below, the crew shall consist of at least three (3) Journeyman Linemen and one (1) Groundman, Foreman included, or two (2) Journeyman Lineman, one (1) Hot Apprentice, and one (1) Groundman, Foreman included. A Cold Apprentice may be substituted for a Groundman.
(c) On G.O. 95 maintenance work, radio interference, maintenance work or other light maintenance work, limited to greasing insulators, tightening of hardware, guy replacement, a three (3) man crew consisting of three (3) Journeyman Linemen (Foreman included) or two (2) Journeyman Lineman (Foreman included) and one (1) Hot Apprentice.
(d) A service crew shall consist of two (2) Journeyman Lineman or one (1) Journeyman Lineman and one (1) Apprentice. A Journeyman Lineman shall be designated as a Working Foreman on each service crew.
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.
Please call the hotline after hours for daily counts related to actual numbers on the books and for details on all available calls.
Dispatch Call Counts through the end of June
As of the end of June, local 1245’s Dispatch office had dispatched 4,370 calls. To put this in perspective of the increased load that our dispatchers are working under, over all 12 months of 2018, there were 3,883 dispatches — which was a record at the time.
The Lineman classification is by far the classification that has been dispatched the most, with a total of 2,961 of those nearly 4,400 calls.
The dispatch office is very busy, so please refrain from calling it during dispatch hours.