The first couple of months of 2020 started a little slower, compared to what had become the norm for 2019. The work plan wasn’t where is should have been with most of the work to begin to pick up after the first quarter, and the COVID -19 pandemic has put a lot of this work on hold. During California’s stay-at-home order, PG&E has stopped or extremely limited work that requires a clearance.
We have seen a significant reduction in workers and dispatches mainly related to work that is deemed noncritical and doesn’t require outages, so as to not inconvenience customers who are sheltered in place at home. Projects that are associated with fire hardening, as well as work that can be done energized and deemed critical, have continued to go on.
We have seen several members and contractors affected by COVID-19 related work stoppages begin to utilize the IBEW International Office’s National Disease Emergency Response Agreement (NDERA). Under the NDERA, a member who has been furloughed can be placed on the out-of-work books and can take short calls (40 hours or less in 1245). If a member who is placed on the books takes a long call anywhere, their previous referral is no longer valid, and they will not be allowed to return to the employer who furloughed them due to the COVID-19 work stoppage. If any employers plan on using these workers on an occasional basis for short or emergency jobs that may come up, we are asking them to not have them placed on the out-of-work books. If they are placed on the out-of-work books and the employer needs them back for a short call (such as possible storm work), the contractor would need to place a short call through the dispatch office. We also request that any member that is placed in this status notify the dispatch office prior to returning to work in a full-time capacity once the furlough is no longer needed.
The safety of our members and staff remains our top priority. Due to social distancing requirements and ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of this virus, Local 1245 has initiated a few changes:
- The union hall’s doors are locked during the day, and we are enforcing limits on the number of members entering the to sign the books at any given time. A security guard and/or staff member is on site to manage the number of people who enter the building.
- Access to the dispatch office is limited to 7am to 9am, and 1pm to 5pm.
- Forms can be filled out electronically, in order to eliminate the need to pass paperwork back and forth in the dispatch office.
- Members utilizing the NDERA provision do not need to come into the hall just have the term slip sent into the dispatch office, and they will be added to the appropriate book.
While these changes to dispatch were all instituted with the COVID-19 in mind, we believe that some of these policies and procedures may in fact be a better way of doing business, and we will be evaluating these processes for the future.
While we are still under the state-mandated orders for social distancing, travelers who plan on traveling to California with the intention of working on PG&E property must be aware of the new PG&E travel restriction requirements.
- As of March 20, 2020, if you or a member of your household have a) flown on a commercial flight or b) have traveled to states that are on the CDC domestic travel advisory or c) traveled by cruise ship or d) embarked on any international travel, you will need to be self-quarantined for 14 days.
Many contractors are doing a wide variety of things to help reduce the spread of the virus, including wellness checks every morning, checking employees’ temperatures, cleaning vehicles, and having every crew member driving separate vehicles to the job site, to name a few.
We do anticipate that work will be picking back up soon, although perhaps not to the normal level we have been accustomed to (especially after a year like 2019). The Transmission and Distribution inspection project for various sections of tier 1 and tier 2 fire areas, as well as all the tier 3 areas, will be kicking off again soon, which should put quite a few members back to work. We are also hearing that other work will be released soon as PG&E works through how to on-board workers and try to keep human contact to a minimum. More to come on the work picture once things settle down a little bit. Fire season is just around the corner and can’t be overlooked.
SMUD has put out to bid pole packages, and it sounds as though HotLine Construction and Diversified Utility Services (DUSI) were chosen to bid on these packages. Hotline has had that work over the last year or two, however it has been several years since DUSI has worked in the jurisdiction.
The Nevada work looks to still be doing well despite the COVID-19 crisis. NV Energy has several jobs in the pipe and many have already been awarded and are underway. It looks to be another good year in NV. Liberty Utilities has a good number of sizeable projects on tap for 2020 as well as they work on their fire hardening efforts.
Nevada OSHA has issued warning of possible violations of social distancing to NV Energy employees, which is also putting the contractors on notice. We are working with the state as well as the other Local Union that represents NV Energy and contractors in Southern Nevada to get clarification and possibly another designation with our work groups, as putting these requirements on our workforce can create other hazards and adverse problems to our members.
PAR still has doc crews and linemen in North & South Lake Tahoe working for Liberty Utilities. They also continue to work on NV Energy fire safety projects in Tahoe and Elko. The initial Elko fire safety inspections are now complete. In 2020 NV Energy and Liberty Utilities are looking to expand this program, creating even more work for our outside contractors. This fire inspection work will turn into repair work and take a sizable amount of manpower to complete this year. Par has expanded its QC staff for the fire inspections. These members review all inspection tags that come back to the office for accuracy and consistency, so that NV Energy is getting a realistic look at what parts of their system need attention.
PAR has resumed work on the two 4-25KV cutovers that were supposed to be completed by the end of the year but have been pushed back due to the fire inspections (bot sure of new completion date).
Wasatch still has 40+/- doc linemen working at various locations for NV Energy. There are seven+/- sub techs and one tele-data tech working for the NV Energy substation group all over the system. The doc work seems to be moving along slowly but steadily. Wasatch has been given the fire safety repairs in Elko, and they have one crew working on it currently.
Titan is currently working on a 4-25KV cutover in Reno. This project has one heavy crew doing hand digs, pole sets and re-conductor work.
Summit’s TRIC 120 KV loop transmission line in the TRIC industrial park is approximately 10 miles of 120 KV, and both phases are now complete. The smaller projects that Summit was previously awarded have been pulled back due to budget issues with NV Energy.
Cupertino is only a few weeks away from the Mustang substation in Sparks, NV.
Our unit meetings have been cancelled until further notice. As we continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 we will be evaluating the need to cancel meetings on a monthly basis. Please check the IBEW 1245 website for news and information related to the OSL work group, as we try to keep it up to date with the latest information available.
All the Business Representatives have been very busy handling all the issues that come with both the COVID-19 reductions and the work that is ongoing. There are three Outside Construction Business Representatives that are available to answer questions or handle issues if they arise.
- Ralph Kenyon (Northern Area)
- Casey Kelley (Nevada and the Sierras)
- Richard Ingle (Southern Area)
Safety and Red Book update
The Red Book has been approved by the full committee and is at the printer at the time of this report. They should be ready for distribution in the coming weeks, as soon as we get them back from the printer. This has been a long time coming, and a lot of work was put into this product, as it represents a full review of the book page by page, and the updates reflect the changes that were implemented by OSHA.
CalNev JATC started the interview process during the last week of February for the nearly 1,000 applicants that were submitted and eligible for the interview process. Since then, things have changed dramatically due to COVID 19, and all future interviews have been put on hold until the current state directives have been removed or relaxed.
All classroom time has also been suspended until the current situation gets better, however current indentured apprentices are still required to complete their workbooks. At this time, we are not sure when things will return to normal.
Current apprentices report:
- 594 outside line apprentices registered in our JATC program.
- 4 traveling “Hot’ apprentices in Cal Nev’s jurisdiction.
- 181 Apprentices working out of local 1245
- 289 working out of 47
- 23 working out of 396
- 95 are unemployed, 21 are not available to work for various reasons and 6 are on a leave
- 17 apprentices graduated to Journeyman Lineman since January 1, 2020.
- 0 new apprentices indentured as outside line apprentices in 2020.
New Northern CalNev JATC facility update: The new facility, which will sit on a 13 acre property recently purchased by the CalNevJATC, is going through the final negotiation process with the General Contractor that the trustees chose to build this facility. We are hopeful these final details will be worked out before May 1 and construction will begin shortly afterwards. We were originally given an approximate 10-month time frame to complete once construction has begun, however given the current shut downs in different industries, we may see some short delays.
As we work on building this new facility to handle the increased load of apprentices in Northern California, we still maintain the temporary Northern California Cal-Nev JATC Training site in Sacramento at the former Campbells Soup facility. The building, located at 6200 Franklin Blvd, is 6000 sq. ft. which allows us to handle the increased volume of apprentices and install our new Trans Banker transformer simulator.
To get to the building: If you’re coming from Hwy 99, take the 47th offramp and head West on 47th. Once you cross Franklin Blvd take the first driveway on you right. The parking lot is 100 yard off of 47th on the left. The training facility is the larger of the two steel buildings
- First Aid & CPR classes are cancelled until further notice.
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.