We are pleased to welcome our new Vegetation Management Inspector members to IBEW 1245! Below, we answer your most frequently asked questions. If you can’t find the answer to your question below, you can email RMA1@ibew1245.com.
Where can I find my agreement?
The agreements are located on the IBEW 1245 website in their generic form, meaning the only thing different on the agreement your employer signed is the effective dates and the Name of your employer on the agreement.
It is important to point out that there are 2 different agreements each contractor had to choose between. 1) with Benefits or 2) with In Lieu of Benefits (ILB). The agreement with benefits requires that every employee covered under the agreement must take the prescribed benefits and are unable to opt out. The agreement with the ILB adds the cost of the benefits (25% of the hourly wage) to the wages.
Many of the larger contractors opted in to the ILB agreements because taking a large number of employees out of their current plans would increase the cost of their current plan for all other employees, whereas many (not all) of the smaller have opted for the benefits plan, as it allows them to provide these benefits to their employees of which they may not have been able to offer before.
The Direct Labor costs between both plans are identical, in that the cost of the benefits is equal to the ILB. Both are based on 25% of the wage in the classification. Knowing which agreement your employer signed will help you find the right agreement, especially if you are wanting to understand the benefits a little better. Below is a list of the employers and their respective agreements:
|Arbormetrics Solutions, LLC|
|Core Tree Care|
|Endeavor Tree LLC|
|Family Tree Service, Inc|
|International Tree Management|
|Jefferson Resource Company, Inc|
|KDF Forestry, Inc.|
|Mario’s Tree Service|
|Moreno Consulting Group|
|Nate’s Tree Service, Inc|
|P31 Enterprises, Inc|
|Sierra Forestry Consulting Inc|
|ACRT Pacific LLC|
|American Tree Medics, Inc|
|APEX Enterprises, Inc.|
|CN Utility Consulting, Inc|
|Coleman Environmental Engineering, Inc.|
|DRG Pacific Services, LLC|
|Gold Coast Utility Specialists|
|Hotshot Arbor Care (Sierra Logistics Co., LLC)|
|KLE Field Services, Inc.|
|Mountain G. Engineering|
|Orient Consulting, LLC|
|Orion Managed Services, LLC|
|Plank Road Forestry, Inc.|
|Signature Utility Services, LLC|
|The Original Mowbray’s|
|Wright Tree Service of the West, Inc.|
If my employer chose the agreement with benefits, what are those benefits that will be provided?
The benefits agreement includes Lineco insurance, which has full medical, dental, vision, short term disability and a death benefit for the member and their eligible family members regardless the number. It also includes a defined benefit retirement plan (NEBF) which means that, upon retirement, the member receives a defined amount for each year of contributions. Example: Current service year amount is $32 a year, so with 10 years of service at the current rate a member would receive $320 a month upon retirement for the remainder of their lives. Finally, there is also the NEAP contribution, which is an annuity plan similar to a 401k plan or cash balance type plan where the allotted negotiated contribution amounts are invested on behalf of the member. Both pension plans listed here, NEBF and NEAP, are very successful plans and are utilized by IBEW members throughout the country.
If my employer chose the In Lieu of Benefits (ILB) option, will I still be able to get medical insurance from my employer?
Unlike the agreement with the IBEW benefits, the ILB option is more flexible to the workers. Under this option, the ILB amount is the same as the actual benefits amount – however, it is converted to dollars vs the actual benefits. If the employer has more than 50 full-time employees, they are required under the Affordable Care Act to offer health care to their employees, which you can opt in or opt out of. If you opt into it ,under the ILB agreement, it will come at an hourly cost to the employee to be deducted from the ILB amount. The employer should provide you a breakdown of the coverage and what that hourly contribution amount is, and you will have to approve the purchase and terms of the employer’s plan. Whatever unused portion of the ILB amount not used to purchase the employer’s plan will be due on the paycheck. The flexibility here is if a member is already covered under another health care plan — for example through a spouse or parents — and don’t need it, they can opt out of the employer’s coverage and receive the full amount as identified in the agreement.
The same goes for any employer 401K plans that may be offered; acceptance of the terms of the plan are at the discretion of the member if they choose to participate. The ILB is what is negotiated in the agreement and belongs to the member, what they choose to use it for is up to their discretion.
What is the difference between being a union member and an agency fee payer?
As a union member, you have all the privileges and perks afforded to all IBEW 1245 members, including having a voice and vote on your contract, the ability to participate in Local Union leadership elections, and coverage under an AD&D insurance policy that Local 1245 carries on all its members. Fee payers are not entitled to the membership perks. Everything else in the contracts such as wages, benefits and working conditions are the same and afforded to the member or the agency fee payer. From a cost standpoint, dues are the same for members and agency fee payers.
What are my union dues, how much?
Under the VMI agreement each member is considered “BA” members, as are our Line Clearance Tree Trimmers and most of the utility employees. The dues for this type of membership are 1.5% of the straight time hourly rate, plus $20 a month for per capita.
Example: If the hourly rate of your classification is $35.16 an hour, the way it is calculated is $35.16 times the straight time hours in a work week (40), times the number of weeks worked in the month (4). So, for $35.16 an hour it would be $35.16/hr x 40 hours in a week x 4 weeks in a month x 1.5% dues + $20 a month. In this scenario it equates to $104.38 a month, or $26.10 a week. This is the same amount paid by members and agency fee payers.
The basic dues are what funds IBEW Local 1245 for your representation and servicing the agreement, the per capita mentioned above is what goes to the IBEW International Office for your membership in the IBEW.
Who is my union representative, and can I contact them at any time?
IBEW Local Union 1245 has (4) Business representatives dedicated solely to Vegetation Management such as the VMI agreements as well as the Line Clearance Tree Trimming and Pole Test and Treat Agreements. Their areas of service are broken down by geography although we prefer that you contact the representative in your geographical area any one of them can take your call and assist you if need assistance. They all work closely together. The Representatives and the areas they cover are broken down as such:
Ray Banfill, Northern Area (Lake County North)
Cell: (707) 471-8259
Junior Ornelas, Central East (Bay Area / Sacramento)
Cell: (707) 372-4305
Francisco Ferreyra, Central West
Cell: (209) 519-3620
Abel Sanchez, Southern Area
Cell: (707) 471-8454
All this information can also be found on the IBEW 1245 website under Quick Links>Find Your Rep. The representatives above will have the Line Clearance Tree Trimming, Pole Test and Treat and VMI designation behind their names.
Do I have any paid sick leave?
The 2015 state of California Sick leave law stated that three days of paid sick leave be paid “unless explicitly written out of a Collective Bargaining Agreement.” We did not write out any sick leave requirement, so each employer is required by law to provide three days of paid sick leave. Some cities have more stringent requirement that requires more days. Some employers have added the 5-day sick leave or PTO to meet those laws, but many haven’t, so it will be important for each worker to understand where they are working and what the requirements are. This is not addressed in the agreement so the law is applicable, and the employer should have this addressed in the company policy handbook.
Are there any paid holidays or vacation?
The answer is no, which is consistent with other contractor agreements, and here is why. There are a few factors we must consider when we weigh in on these types of benefits, 1) Getting the most money in the hands of the workers as possible, and 2) maintaining the direct labor costs (actual cost of the worker) for all employers so that one doesn’t gain a financial advantage on another by manipulating pay to the workers.
There is a direct labor cost to this agreement, and that is fixed. That cost is wages + 25% in either benefits or ILB + daily subsistence.
That cost is fixed as mentioned. If we were to include a paid time off (PTO) benefit, the cost would need to come from somewhere. Below is an example:
- At $35 an hour, 10 days of paid holidays costs $2,800 ($35 X 80 hours). A standard year (2,080 hours) divided by the cost of those 10 holiday days ($2,800) equates to $1.35 an hour. This is the amount that would need to be deducted from the hourly wage of $35 to pay for the holidays, making the new hourly wage of $33.65 an hour.
Here lies the problem.
- With overtime, which is paid at the doubletime of your hourly wage, reducing the actual hourly wage will also reduce the overtime pay, as OT is calculated on the straight time rate.
- Another issue with paid time off is if you leave the company for any reason, you don’t get that money back. This benefit is basically having the employer create an account for the workers and will make more off of them than the member will, by reducing the hourly rate to cover the cost.
- It typically works better if the member creates an account and diverts a small percentage to it and manages it themselves. For example, if an employee took their $50 a day per diem and saved that themselves in a separate account for PTO loss — based on a 5-day workweek minus 11 unpaid holidays – that equates to $12,500 a year. That’s a minimum and doesn’t count weekends worked. This not only would cover the cost of wages for holidays and vacation for the year, it could also fund the trip (or close to it). Basically, it gives the member the power to control their own funds, and more money goes to the workers’ pockets. This is the model for most of our construction agreements and tree agreements and there are no stranded costs or liabilities.