PG&E’s gas system coordinators monitor and manage the utility’s gas transmission system. By observing load trends, inventory needs, and pipeline pressure limitations, they play a crucial role in ensuring safe and reliable operation of the gas transmission and storage system. Their work includes issuing operating orders to Gas Control Center, compressor stations, and storage field personnel, who in turn make changes in flows and pressure to meet the system’s demands.
For these coordinators, the path to going union started in 2020 when a member of the workgroup reached out to IBEW 1245 to find out how to organize. That worker soon moved on to another job, and while the topic of joining IBEW still arose from time to time among the remaining coordinators, pandemic-related remote work stalled the conversation. It took the coordinators by surprise when, in April of 2021, labor relations held a meeting with them to deliver an anti-union presentation. Management seemed to be under the impression that the workgroup had already signed union authorization cards and were actively organizing, but at the time, the IBEW 1245 organizing team had yet to speak to a single system coordinator.
By spring of this year, the gas system coordinators had returned to their worksite in San Ramon with a renewed perspective on their jobs, and were ready to have a frank discussion about organizing. Among the reasons they decided to reach out to Local 1245 were inconsistent disciplinary practices, being required to be on-call even when on vacation, and a lack of advocacy or support when interacting with supervision. Most of the system coordinators have been members of unions before, either at past employers or in other classifications within PG&E, so they knew the difference that a union makes at work. After a few productive meetings with IBEW 1245 Organizer Charlotte Stevens and myself, the group was ready to move forward.
We filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board at the beginning of June. At first, the company objected to the inclusion of senior gas system coordinators, arguing that they were supervisors and thus ineligible to join the union. However we had already interviewed senior coordinators, and determined that they did not meet the criteria of ‘supervision’ as outlined by the law. Thankfully, we were able to reach an agreement with the company, and the election went forward with the 14-person unit, senior coordinators included (the expert gas system coordinator position is not a part of the bargaining unit).
Aided by the volunteer efforts of IBEW 1245 Organizing Stewards Danielle Bonds and Donyale Davis, the Local 1245 organizing team ensured a victory by calling the unit’s card signers and making sure they received and returned their ballots. When the votes were tallied on July 25, the gas system coordinators won their election with 78% Yes.
Bargaining proposals are now completed, and the group will begin drafting their first offer to the company with the assistance of Senior Assistant Business Manager Anthony Brown and Assistant Business Manager Mike Adayan.
–Rick Thompson, IBEW 1245 Lead Organizer