Training & Safety

Following deregulation, utilities stopped providing sufficient training for their workers. The UWUA advocates for training and retooling our workforce to operate and maintain the utilities of the future.

FROM THE UWUA CONSTITUTION:

The UWUA advocates for training and retooling our workforce to operate and maintain the utilities of the future. This is not just about acquiring new skills; training must be tailored to meet the needs of full-time workers who will be enhancing their skills throughout their careers. Due to the large number of retirements expected over the next five years, utilities are one of the few sectors with projected job growth. We must make sure that utility jobs allow workers to earn a decent living. And we must encourage greater recruitment, training and employment of women and minorities.

Due to the large number of retirements expected over the next five years, utilities are one of the few sectors with projected job growth.

Young utility workers are not gaining the skills necessary to replace a rapidly aging workforce. 38% of electric and gas utility employees will retire in the next decade. Yet, unemployment of young adults is the highest in generations, with 5.8 million young adults neither in school nor working.

Projections indicate that by 2030 the energy sector overall, including transmission, storage, and distribution, will need an additional 1.5 million workers. Most of these jobs will be in construction, installation and maintenance, and transportation, plus approximately 200,000 more workers with computer and mathematics skills will be needed. Following deregulation, utilities stopped providing sufficient training for their workers.

The UWUA created the Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) to train the next generation of utility workers. P4A was established as a joint labor-management trust to create career paths in the utility industries, and to provide on-the-job training and continuous skills enhancements for our members. The mission of the UWUA Power for America Training Trust Fund is to provide workers with the highest quality training to meet the needs of the industry and the global marketplace.

The mission of the UWUA Power for America Training Trust Fund is to provide workers with the highest quality training to meet the needs of the industry and the global marketplace.

The most effective training combines classroom learning with on-the-job experience. There is substantial evidence that apprenticeship programs efficiently increase employee productivity. Researchers have found that U.S. workers who complete an apprenticeship make about $300,000 more than comparable employees over their lifetimes. Apprenticeships are also an effective public investment. In an analysis of work-force training programs, researchers found that the return on investment for apprenticeships is $23 for every public dollar of investment.

Union-led training helps to develop good union members, especially in “right-to-work” states. Union training gives workers a good introduction to the value of union representation and collective bargaining.

Health & Safety

UWUA members are first responders in all emergencies dealing with electric, water, gas and steam. In 2010, the UWUA received a federal grant through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to prepare workers for emergency response and hazard awareness.

UWUA members are first responders in all emergencies dealing with electric, water, gas and steam.

A training initiative used Train The Trainers (TTT) in several locals, and training in Systems of Safety (SOS) method training classes of both union and management workers began shortly after the TTT was completed.

SOS training engages workers to share knowledge, expertise and experience. The program demonstrates how all workers, both union and management, can work together for the goal of an injury-free workplace that protects workers, the public and the environment. To date, the UWUA Systems of Safety program has trained more than 6,000 workers over the last four years.

July 2011

  • TTT was conducted at the Maritime Institute in Baltimore, MD for UWUA members at nuclear sites. Union members from Indian Point, Pilgrim, Palisades, Fermi, and San Onofre attended.
  • Local 132 members received training in how to conduct an Incident Investigation, to determine the real root cause of accidents, moving past blaming the worker.
  • Local 1-2 members held a TTT preparing for classes for workers in the Central Operations division of Con Ed. Trainers from the Electric Operations in Brooklyn/Queens division requested a TTT for their division, and the SOS program expanded to the Bronx/Westchester Electric operations division as a result.
  • A refresher course was held for trainers at Indian Point.

September 2011

  • Local 132 President Art Frias, other officers, and staff reps Carl Wood and Jerry Acosta provided a better overview of our safety initiatives and training with union workers in the SOS program. A position paper was prepared for California Public Utilities Commission hearings, to show how the union workers from Local 132 should be involved in decision-making on safety related issues, to create a safer work place and protect the public and the environment.
  • The UWUA attended a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) grantees meeting and workshops held in Chicago.
  • Various locals took part in investigating one-man bucket truck procedures from a safety perspective. They passed those procedures on to the Brotherhood of Utility Workers locals.

2012

  • Local 1-2 members took part in a second TTT, which included local members from Con Edison but also local members and Trans Canada Co. owners of the Ravenswood Generation Station.
  • UWUA and Local 369 took on a safety issue dealing with 25kv gloving.
  • A Blue/Green conference held in Atlanta as part of a NIEHS initiative gathered safety information on the construction and maintenance of a wind turbine operation.
  • A gas conference in Phoenix, AZ focused of the pros and cons of the fracking process, and environmental opinions of fracking.
  • UWUA met with Local 1-2 President Harry Farrell to launch a joint training with members of the Transit Workers Union Local 100 on SOS Hazard Awareness/Emergency Preparedness. Local 100 members were introduced to our SOS training method.
  • UWUA took part in a NIEHS grantees meeting and workshops in Ft. Lauderdale.
  • Local 223 hosted a conference to open further discussion of fracking.
  • A Blue/Green conference was held in Philadelphia, and the NIEHS held a workshop on fracking, both pro and con.
  • The Union met with IBEW reps representing workers at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Facility, to make a presentation on SOS and invite them to become involved in the program.
  • Local 1-2 reps made a presentation on the value of our SOS program at the New York State Public Utilities Safety Division Association.
  • The UWUA trained UMAP program veterans in the SOS Haz-Mapping program at the request of Local 18007 President Rick Passerelli.
  • Two trainers from Local 1-2 went to Knoxville, TN, to do training with the NIEHS Department of Energy grantees for SOS Emergency Preparedness/ Haz Awareness.
  • Region 5 conducted several conferences on the SOS program, and discussed training with UMAP reps on interaction with a veterans group in Chicago, and continuing the SOS Haz-Mapping training.
  • A Region 2/3 conference laid out the safety program under the NIEHS grant.
  • A second and third SOS training with TWU Local 100 to evaluate and participate in the program.
  • Region 4 held a conference on the NIEHS grant and SOS program.
  • Local 375 asked for member training in Haz-Mapping at United Water for evaluation of both the local and management. Two classes were held.
  • Region 1 held a conference to discuss the NIEHS grant and SOS program.
  • A water conference was held in Chicago with various locals from the water industry, to discuss safety incidents and concerns.
  • Local 132 held a four-day training on SOS Haz-Mapping program for union members, So. Cal management and the California Public Utilities Commission. The training showed the CPUC reps the value that union workers bring with their knowledge, expertise and experience.
  • UWUA attended a grantees meeting and workshop for the NIEHS.
  • After Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, the UWUA coordinated with NIEHS grantees on safety conditions and raising awareness to locals in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • FirstEnergy and various locals requested a SOS Haz-Mapping TTT in West Virginia, after the merger with Allegheny Power. The training took place in Morgantown.

2013

  • Local 246 raied concerns about a behavior- based safety program that the UWUA criticizes for concentrating on ‘fixing the worker’ to avoid the hazard, not addressing the best method to either control or eliminate a hazard.
  • Local 1-2 Brooklyn/Queens Electric Operations at Con Edison organized a new TTT, and a startup of an SOS program was held for Trans Canada workers.
  • National Rep R. Fronek reported a contractor fatality at the Harrison plant. OSHA was notified and the UWUA elected to have party status to be involved in the investigation. OSHA found no violations of OSHA regs.
  • Local 1-2 officers participated in Con Edison Safety Day for the Electric Operations groups out of Brooklyn/ Queens.
  • Local 423 President M. Esposito reported that OSHA was investigating the fatality of a local member. The local will have party status in the investigation.
  • NIEHS grantees held a meeting in Washington, DC.
  • Power 4 America held a conference in Chicago.
  • Research was initiated on safety concerns dealing with the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the death of 11 workers.

October, November and December

During these months, the union took part in the start up of the P4A Training Center developed in Potterville, Michigan. This program was to train entry level workers and future MSUWC members in the safety and health procedures of Consumers Energy in the production and delivery of natural gas.

2014

  • UWUA continued to work on the P4A project at the temporary facility in Macomb.
  • NIEHS grantees met and attended workshops in Los Angeles.
  • Training Center construction in Potterville was completed, with a grand opening on June 20.
  • Local 365 President Frank Accardi and National Rep Shawn Garvey arranged a meeting with reps of American Water to discuss an asbestos exposure at a work location.
  • UWUA worked on a position paper to address funding for training of displaced workers.
  • American Water and Local 365 came to an agreement on monitoring asbestos exposure.
  • UWUA assisted Region 5 Rep Jerry Acosta on a letter to the head of the Roswell Water Authority on problems and solutions regarding asbestos exposure.
  • Various local leaders attended a Region 1 conference on safety concerns, the SOS program, and the NIEHS grant.
  • UWUA applied for another NIEHS five-year grant to continue training.
  • Regions 2/3 Director Don Opatka sent information from Local 468 President George Mason on a possible asbestos exposure. OSHA was contacted, and the proper steps to obtain that exposure info was given to the president.
  • A gas conference in Orlando addressed safety concerns and advised various local officers.
  • A NIEHS grantees meeting and workshops were held in Raleigh, NC.
  • American Water locals conferred in Chicago to discuss involvement of locals in the SOS program.
  • A TTT was held for Local 1-2 members to start an SOS program in the Gas Division and the Customers Operation Division of Con Edison.
  • A trainers’ meeting with union members of Local 1-2 was held to discuss schedule and trainer concerns, and to review the program.

2015

  • FirstEnergy expressed interest in doing the SOS program of Haz-Mapping again, and starting working on contracts for it.
  • American Water Company announced it would host a conference on safety, and discuss an SOS program and partnering on a DOL grant to be run under the P4A. The union worked on presentations for this conference.
  • UWUA met with Local 1-2 President James Slevin on a possible pilot program of union/management safety teams, for the purpose of safety evaluations on-job site, with work crews to improve the safety and health of members.
  • NIEHS grantees met and held workshops in Portland OR.
  • UWUA met with the new P4A Executive Director Jonathan Harmon to work together to provide background of the P4A, and offering advice to instructors.
  • The union gave presentations at the American Water Safety Conference.

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