As COVID 19 restrictions start to ease up, we are seeing the work increase. We have also seen multiple fires all over our jurisdiction, including Glass, August Complex, North Complex, Creek and LNU fires, just to name a few. As a result of these fires, we have seen a lot of movement with members seeking more hours to work the firestorm restoration. Subsequently, we have been handling calls with the contractors who are losing their workforce; the customer who is fielding complaints from these contractors and wanting to stabilize the workforce; and the members who are upset or confused about who gets to go man this storm restoration work. The issue all comes down to the disparity in the number of hours being offered to perform fire hardening and routine work vs storm restoration work. We know this workforce will keep moving to gain the most hours, and this has been relayed more than once. The best way to slow this movement of workers from one contractor to another would be for the customer to offer the same hours for all the work being performed across the jurisdiction.
Firestorm — or any storm work, for that matter — falls under the National Emergency Response Agreement, which has been covered many times in the past in these reports and is located on Local Union 1245 website, https://bit.ly/2009stormagreement. This agreement was put in place across the United States in 2009 to provide resources in areas that are struck by disasters, with clear requirements of what it is for and how it is to be implemented. Local 1245 Business Representatives are doing everything possible to ensure it is used as intended and followed as required. We encourage all members to be familiar with this agreement, as well as your collective bargaining agreement. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.
With the amount of work we have had and the influx of workers from outside of the jurisdiction, safety is an issue, and we are seeing an increase in injuries, circuit interruptions, and vehicle accidents. Our business representatives are spending numerous hours on investigations with the customer for each incident/accident that’s deemed a potential Serious Incident Fatality (SIF). We are seeing a large number of workers being terminated for these incidents as well, which has resulted in examining committee meetings to review these incidents before a member can return to work. This requirement is covered in the dispatch policies whenever someone takes a referral from our dispatch office. We all need to do our part in ensuring everyone works safe in order to eliminate these incidents.
Over the last year, we have had five large truck roll-overs, with one being a fatality. Most of these roll-over accidents have been caused by overheated brakes going down long steep grades. Please use the rule of thumb of using one gear lower for the descent than it took to go up the grade. We are also having a hard time keeping up with the amount of recorded circuit interruptions. Journeymen, please use your training and use the proper cover required to insulate and isolate, and let’s stop this trend.
Work is quite busy, which is expected for this time of year, with lots of projects to get done before winter, especially in Lake Tahoe.
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 Reno, Tahoe, and Virginia City areas. In 2020, NV Energy and Liberty Utilities expanded this program creating even more work for our outside contractors. This fire inspection work has turned into repair work and has created a lot of work in the area. 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 also has a project going in Vikingsholm as part of Liberty’s fire safety work. PAR has been working on 500+/- or so fire safety tags in the Virginia City and VC Highlands areas. It seems the fault tamer stock has been replenished from previous deficiencies.
PAR has resumed work on the two 4KV to 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 projects are now a go.
Wasatch still has 40+/- doc linemen working at various locations for NV Energy. There are 7+/- sub techs working for NV Energy’s 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, which are close to completion.
Summit Line has completed a small substation in the TRI development.
Sturgeon Electric was the low bidder for the doc work. Crews are on NV Energy property and will be working to fill calls as they are needed for this work.
Liberty Utilities awarded an inspection contract to Mountain General Engineering (MGE). They brought on 10 inspectors to do a full fire safety inspection of all OH facilities in the Liberty service territory. This project is now complete, and MGE Line Services has started the repairs. There are two crews on this project.
TW Powerline has started working for Liberty Utilities doing some small UG jobs. They have one crew working.
There was an incident where a crew grounded the energized circuit of a 120KV/60KV double circuit pole. The 60KV was supposed to be de-energized and the 120KV hot. The 120KV got grounded, there were no injuries due to the circuits being on one shot. This incident appears to have been partly an issue with the tester and lack of local knowledge of the circuits being worked, as well as human error.
For members planning to come to the hall to sign the books, please be aware of our current COVID-19 procedure. The doors remain locked all day, and there is a security guard who regulates access to ensure there are no more than two people in dispatch at any given time. All are required to wear a face covering, have a temperature check, and sanitize hands before going into dispatch. We have also gone to signing people up electronically. When you arrive at the Hall, you’ll find a menu stand with instructions about how to re-sign and sign the books. Please visit https://bit.ly/signingthebookscovid for more details.
Dispatch hours are 7am – 9am and 1pm – 4:30 pm. Applications received after 4:30 pm will be sent out the next business day.
As of Oct. 1, we have had 4,185 calls, with 2,486 being Journeyman Lineman calls. There were 49 Linemen on the books as of Oct. 1. 37 of those are on book 2 and typically do not take any calls. Please use the Dispatch Hotline number to check calls daily. Members are also encouraged to use the online portal, which can be accessed through our website, to check your position on the books, update personal information and even pay dues.
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, all of our unit meetings were cancelled, with the county requirements prohibiting such meetings. On Oct. 6, General Membership/OSL held its first meeting since COVID 19 restrictions were first implemented. This meeting was held outdoors, on the East side of the building under the Lineman sign, and social distancing and other safety guidelines were followed. It was a great meeting and well attended, especially with all the work we have going on. We will continue these types meetings in the future, provided we can continue to have the cooperation of the membership in adhering to the safety guidelines and the city/state doesn’t impose any outside gathering restrictions in the future. IF you plan on attending one of the outdoor meetings, we encourage you to bring their own chair. We’re looking forward to the day when things return to normal and we can resume the indoor meetings.
Safety and Red Book update
The very popular Joint IBEW and NECA safety book — or “The Red Book” as it is known by across the industry — has finally arrived, and the Business Reps are working to get them out to whoever wants them.
The red book has gone through a complete overhaul to get it consistent with the current OSHA standards and was a challenge to complete. This book and its revision have taken some time to finally get here, and we believe the final product was well worth the wait. Most of the workforce likes to have the hard copies, and we are working to get them out there. This new book can be identified by the yellow stripe towards the bottom of the cover that contains the new amended date of July 1, 2020. If anyone still has one of the older versions without the yellow stripe, we are asking to please remove them from the jobsites as there are a lot of changes and they are no longer valid. The contents of the new red book can also be found on the IBEW 1245 website at https://bit.ly/safetyredbook.
The CalNev JATC had started the interview process for the over 900 applicants who applied during the October 2019 open application period. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trustees began the interview process and completed one round of interviews before being shut down. There was another delay as we needed to handle all the apprentices who were out of work due to the shutdown before we could begin to try to bring any new apprentices on. We aim to complete all remaining interviews this month.
In 2019 we indentured over 360 new apprentices, which basically doubled what we had in the program in 2018. However due to the COVID issues, we had only indentured 17 new apprentices as of October 1, 2020. As work is picking up and the demand is increasing, the JATC has started new climbing classes. As of this writing, we have one class of 15 underway, with another to begin shortly.
Current apprentices report:
- 558 outside line apprentices registered in our JATC program
- 7 traveling “Hot’ apprentices in Cal Nev’s jurisdiction
- apprentices traveling outside our jurisdiction
- 192 Apprentices are working out of local 1245
- 325 are working out of 47, and 16 are working out of 396
- 20 are unemployed, 16 are not available to work for various reasons and 3 are on leave
- 48 apprentices graduated to Journeyman Lineman since January 1, 2020
- 17 new apprentices indentured as outside line apprentices in 2020.
Construction is going well at the new 13-acre Northern CalNev JATC facility, which was purchased last year by the CalNev JATC. The 12,000 square foot state-of-the-art training center is on schedule to be completed the first quarter of 2021. The new facility address is 545 Santa Anita Dr., Woodland, CA.
In preparation of the opening of this new training center, the CalNev JATC is seeking a new Assistant Director. The ad for this position can be found on our website at https://bit.ly/jatcassistantdirector.
As we work on building this new facility to handle the increased load of apprentices in Northern California, we are still utilizing the temporary Northern California CalNev JATC Training site in Sacramento at the former Campbells Soup facility. The building is 6000 sq. ft. which allows us to handle the increased volume of apprentices and our new Trans Banker transformer simulator. The address is 6200 Franklin Blvd, Sacramento, Ca 95824.
Injured Workers Fund (IWF)
In the past three months there have been 14 claims paid out to eligible members. 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.
As of this writing, the fund contains over $1.5 million. It was created in 2007 and originally designed to help OSL members who were injured or killed on the job. Through the years, we have been able to expand those benefits as well as payout amounts.
To request an IWF application please email EJMH@ibew1245.com or text (707) 452-2720 with your name, 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 August 2020:
California Outside Line Construction Agreement:
- Divine Power LLC.
- VIP Powerline Corp.