Work has slowly increased over the past month as COVID 19 restrictions have lifted a little. One of the restrictions removed was the 14-day self-quarantine of individuals who’ve travelled by air, domestic or internationally. It is possible that restrictions could be reinstated depending on PG&E and local government guidelines. Face coverings are still required in situations where it is difficult to maintain a 6ft distance from other workers or the public.
Changes have been made at the IBEW 1245 union hall as well. Doors remain locked all day and a security guard regulates access to ensure there are no more than two people in dispatch at any given time. We have also gone to signing people up electronically. When you show up to the hall there is a menu stand with instructions about how to re-sign and sign the books. Dispatch hours are 7am – 9am and 1pm – 4:30 pm. Applications received after 4:30 pm will be addressed the next business day.
Calls this year are lower than last year, but 2019 calls were at an all-time high, a result of PG&E’s inspection program where they inspected every electrical asset in their system. The 2020 inspections got off to a later-than-expected start, but are now underway. Not 100% of PG&E’s assets are to be inspected in 2020, as the plans are to only inspect Tier 1 (High Fire Threat) areas on an annual basis, and the other zones (Tier 2 and 3) at three-year and five-year intervals, respectively.
Comparing 2020 to 2018, we have had a 50% increase in Journeyman Lineman calls for the same time period. There were 1,388 Journeyman Lineman calls from January thru June 2020, compared to 2,975 calls in 2019 and 665 calls in 2018.
Fire hardening work and tag work continues, with plenty of work in the foreseeable future. We are seeing a steady flow of workers still traveling to the area with roughly 100 Lineman on Book 2 at the time of this writing. As we head into fire season, we expect contractor resources to also be involved in Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events, if and when they are implemented, to inspect and repair any damage that may occur during wind events before re-energization.
Pole package work is also continuing at SMUD, with HotLine Construction and Diversified Utility Services (DUSI) performing this work.
On June 2, 2020, a horrific helicopter crash ended three lives way too soon. Wilson Construction was tasked by PG&E to do a reconductor on the Vaca-Vacaville-Cordelia 115 Kv line. Travis Shull, a fourth-step apprentice, and Jimmy Wasdin, a Journeyman Lineman, had completed their task for the day on top of the tower. Rosco Gray, the pilot of a Bell 206, picked up Travis and Jimmy to fly them back to the LZ. A short time later the helicopter crashed, killing all three. The NTSB is investigating the crash, and no other details are currently known. If you wish to donate to the families, the Hall is accepting donations and will get them to the families.
When tragedies like this happen, we are reminded how precious life is, and we think of the families that are left behind to pick up the pieces. Local 1245 members have death benefit policies – one is through SYMETRA, and the other is the IBEW International Death Benefit. As life changes constantly, please make sure you have updated your beneficiaries on both documents to reflect your wishes.
The Nevada work has slowed some due to the COVID-19, with some projects on hold in favor of other more urgent ones. Still looks to be a fair amount of work for the year despite the pandemic.
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, VC and Elko. NV Energy and Liberty Utilities are looking to expand this program this year, creating even more work for our outside contractors. This fire inspection work will turn into repair work, which should take a sizable amount of manpower to complete. 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 started installing Hendrix cable as part of Liberty Energy’s fire hardening efforts. This project runs from Meeks Bay to Sugar Pine Park. Par has also started on 500 or so fire safety tags in the Virginia City and VC Highlands areas, but are running short on fault tamer cutouts for the project. This issue should be resolved soon.
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. (These are still on hold as non-essential, but may start up sometime soon.)
Wasatch still has 40+/- doc linemen working at various locations for NV Energy. There are 7+/- sub techs working for NV Energy substation group all over the system. The doc work seems to be moving along slow but steady. 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 and pole sets and re-conductor work. This project is close to wrapping up. Titan has been awarded a few helical piers in Jackpot, NV which will only amount to 3-4 days of work. Most of Titan’s work will be complete by the time this report is published.
Sturgeon Electric was the low bidder for the doc work and crews are on NV Energy property. They’ll be working to fill calls as they are needed for this work.
Our unit meetings have been cancelled as we continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19, and we will be evaluating the need to cancel future meeting on a monthly basis. Please check with the 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.
Inspection Contracts Ratified
We had approximately 30 inspection agreements that cover Electric, Gas, Hydro, Substation, Relay and Communication workers set to expire on June 1, 2020. A tentative agreement was reached and two separate tele-town hall meetings were held for the effected members. The ballots were mailed out and voted on in two separate groups (Electric /Gas) and both were approved overwhelmingly when the votes were counted on May 29. In fact, the gas group ratified the new agreement with 100% “yes” votes, and the Electric group voted 98% in favor of ratification.
The ratified agreement includes:
- Six-year term
- General wage increase are; 3%, 3.75%, 3.75%, 3.75%, 3.75%, 3.75%
- In Lieu of Benefits (ILB) increase from $14.25 an hour to $21.50 an hour on all hours worked
June 1, 2020 thru May 31, 2026 is the new term for these agreements, and they will be added to the website once the International office has approved them.
All the Business Representatives have been very busy working during this time, handling all the issues that have come up around COVID-19 reductions and the work that is ongoing. There are three Outside Construction Business Representatives that are in the field to answer questions or handle issues if they arise.
- Ralph Kenyon (Northern Area)
- Casey Kelley (Nevada and the Sierras)
- Richard Ingle (Southern Area)
Our business reps have resumed crew visits with full social distancing and face coverings required. If you are need of a crew visit, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the representatives. We are trying to keep overnight stays to a minimum while the COVID-19 threat is still out there, but are working through these issues to see the membership.
Safety and Red Book Update
Red Books were printed, and distribution of them had begun when an error was found with them. While trying to mitigate the error, several more errors were found, which resulted in us pulling all the books back. The printer has agreed to re-do the 10,500 books that were ordered. We are still waiting on them to be printed before we can begin issuance of them to the field. The approved copy can be found on IBEW Local Union 1245 website.
CalNev JATC had started climbing classes again for new apprentices with a lay-off of interviews for several months due to the COVID 19 issues and a slow-down in work during the first quarter of the year. We don’t have a date on when interviews will begin again, as there are roughly 700 applicants still needing to be interviewed from the last open application period. The situation is being evaluated by the JATC and the trustees, and we will continue to monitor this over the next couple of months. Stay tuned if you have a pending application in process and are waiting for an interview.
Current apprentices report:
- 564 outside line apprentices registered in our JATC program.
- 6 traveling “hot’ apprentices in Cal Nev’s jurisdiction.
- 196 apprentices working out of local 1245
- 318 working out of 47
- 17 working out of 396
- 29 are unemployed, 25 are not available to work for various reasons and 4 are on a leave
- 35 apprentices graduated to Journeyman Lineman since January 1, 2020.
- 0 new apprentices indentured as outside line apprentices in 2020.
Update on the new Northern CalNev JATC facility: The new facility will sit on 13 acres that was purchased last year by the CalNev JATC, and construction began on the site in June. Everything is moving smoothly with a few issues we are working out in hopes of having this facility up and running in the first quarter of 2021. The new facility will be located in Woodland, California on the corners of Tanforan Avenue and Santa Anita Dr.
As we work on building this new facility to handle the increased load of apprentices in Northern California, we are still using the temporary Northern California Cal-Nev JATC Training site in Sacramento Ca. at the former Campbells Soup facility. The building is 6000 sq. ft. which allows us to handle the increased volume of apprentices and install our new Trans Banker transformer simulator. The address is 6200 Franklin Blvd, Sacramento, Ca 95824. 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 your right. The parking lot is 100 yards off 47th on the left. The training facility is the larger of the two steel buildings.
Outside Line Construction – Injured Workers Fund (IWF)
In the past three months, $65,600 in disability claims have been paid out to eligible members and a total of $100,000 has been issued for two death benefit claims. The IWF continues to see 15-20 claims per month, mostly from non-work-related injuries/illness. The non-work-related benefit, along with a parental leave benefit, was added in early 2019 and has increased the number of claims significantly.
When claims are denied, it is often due to the fact that the required documentation has not been submitted at all, or it does not contain all of the required information. When requesting an IWF application, please make sure to read ALL of the eligibility requirements and submit with the appropriate documentation. Claims are already taking longer to process due to COVID, and missing information just adds on to the time you have to wait for a decision.
To request an IWF application, please email EJMH@ibew1245.com or text (707) 452-2720 with your name and email address, or mailing address if you prefer to receive this document through the mail.
The following companies have signed an agreement with Local 1245 since April 2020.
California Outside Line Construction Agreement:
- Ubertech Professional Services, LLC
- Consolidated Engineering Inc.
- Ampjack America, LTD
- GL Richter, Inc.
- Central Valley Mechanical General Engineering, Inc.
- Live Oak Utility Infrastructure, LLC
- Sigal Utility Services, Inc.
- DARS Cox Construction, Inc.
- First Aid & CPR classes are temporarily suspended due to COVID 19.
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. Please call the hotline for details on all available calls.