IBEW 1245 Assistant Business Manager Doug Girouard has been working with the union for nine years, and his responsibilities include IT operations, systems development, and financial analysis. Accomplishments to better serve the members of 1245 include design and implementation of a web-based pension calculator to facilitate comparison of traditional versus cash balance pension plan options; design and implementation of an electronic document library system and associated content-based search engine; member information system enhancements; and modernization of accounting systems. The former Diablo Canyon shift control technician also acts as Trustee Chair for the IBEW 1245 Pension Plan, and represented the union on the Unsecured Creditors Committee during the PG&E bankruptcy.
Below, Girouard answers questions about the modernization initiative he has been overseeing at IBEW 1245, and the impact these advances have had on the union and its members.
Q: Under your guidance, IBEW 1245 has been making a lot of technology upgrades over the past few years. What specific systems have been improved, modernized and/or digitized?
A: Everything from the phone system, backup power systems, network architecture, back-office systems, document management system, member information systems, dues processes and systems, dispatch processes and systems, accounting processes and systems, expense processes and systems, audio visual systems, video conferencing systems, and more.
These improvements would not be possible if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication of our office staff. Without their experience and input in terms of ideas, feedback, and questions, 1245 would not be in the enviable position it is in today.
Q: How did COVID impact / play a role in the union’s modernization plans?
A: COVID, in some respects, accelerated the adoption of new technologies and processes. Thanks to the flexibility, patience, and effort of our office staff along with new technology, we were able to setup our staff to work from home. This enabled 1245 to maintain office operations, including dispatch and dues processing, without missing a beat in a time of unprecedented membership growth.
Q: How do these upgrades allow the union to better serve its members?
A: Modernization generally allows for more efficient uses of resources, development of new capabilities, and operational flexibility.
Q: Which modernization project(s) proved to be the most challenging?
A: It’s difficult to pick a single project as the nature of the challenges varies so much. I would say process development usually is the most involved as it typically entails disparate technologies, people, and conditions.
A: Which projects have yielded the most notable returns?
A: The implications of any given project vary so much. Some projects are essentially not noticed by anyone, yet serve a crucial function to the operation of 1245. Other projects have a significant impact on our members (the electronic dispatch application process, for example). Others have a significant impact on our staff (the expense reimbursement process, for example). Yet others have a significant impact on our office operations (the dues processing process, for example).
Q: Why do you think it’s important for labor unions to seek out and implement more technological advancements?
A: Technological advances allow unions to make the most efficient use of their resources, better represent their membership, grow capabilities to avail themselves of new opportunities, and increase their ability to adapt to changing/unforeseen circumstances.