While Ron Weakley had a long-term vision for IBEW 1245, L. L. Mitchell was the mechanic who knew how to negotiate labor agreements with PG&E. Weakley called Mitchell “the main guy” at the bargaining table.
Together they negotiated the first stock purchase plan in the electric utility industry. They laid the foundation for company-paid health insurance, dental care and pension. They negotiated paid rest periods, overtime pay for work on holidays, and the Supplemental Benefit for industrial injury. They negotiated automatic wage progressions, and regular increases in wages and shift premiums. They added several holidays and vacation days. They created the Master Apprenticeship Agreement.
It was a big challenge to get PG&E to agree to a safety program, and to provide adequate assistance to disabled workers. Mitchell’s signature accomplishment was the creation of a Long-Term Disability program for disabled PG&E workers.
IBEW 1245 aggressively organized public agencies in the 1970s: City of Roseville, City of Gridley, City of Lompoc (which was re-organized in 2013), Yuba County Water Agency, Wells Rural Electric Co-op, and Placer County Water Agency. In the private sector, the union organized Mt. Wheeler Power, RCA Missile Tracking Station (NASA), CP National, and about a dozen cable TV companies.
Mitchell won two elections as business manager in 1971 and 1974. He was defeated in his bid for a third term in 1977 by one of his own employees: Business Representative Dean Cofer. But Mitchell’s legacy as a co-founder of Local 1245 endures. The main meeting room at Weakley Hall is named in Mitchell’s honor.