Vegetation Management (VM) Inspectors play a critical role when it comes to keeping utility lines safe and operational. Their responsibilities include vegetation patrols, customer interaction, work verification and logistical coordination amongst multiple agencies – all work that is typically done by members of IBEW 1245. However, as of last week, there were 1,500 non-signatory contractors working as VM Inspectors on PG&E property. These non-union inspectors have been earning well below the IBEW standard wage rate, and most lack the type of consistent training that’s needed in this safety-centric position.
IBEW 1245 Business Manager Bob Dean decided it’s high time to fix this issue and give these workers the wages, training and union benefits that they deserve. He reached out to PG&E’s vegetation management team, and together, the union and the company quickly came to an agreement that would turn the tide for these workers, most of whom have been earning less than $20/hr.
Under this new PG&E letter agreement, all non-signatory contractors performing vegetation management work for PG&E must become signatory to IBEW 1245 in order to continue getting this work. The VM Inspectors will see a significant and immediate pay raise, anywhere from 50-100% over their current wage. The agreement also comes with training and enhanced oversight, providing for increased public and member safety in the field.
The VM Inspectors that are currently employed directly with PG&E will now become Senior VM Inspectors, with a starting wage of $41.38/hr, and new VM Inspectors will start at $35.17. Under the agreement, the company must directly hire an additional 150 employees into these VM classifications. PG&E Vice President of Vegetation Management Peter Kenney has agreed to staff partially from two new PowerPathway classes, which supports our ongoing effort to bring more diversity into the workforce.
“Peter Kenny at PG&E worked with me on the idea, Senior Assistant Business Manager Ralph Armstrong helped drive it to completion, and Senior Assistant Business Manager Bob Gerstle negotiated it in record time,” said Local 1245 Business Manager Bob Dean. “This is a great example of what can be done when we work together.”