Region V Local Reports

Officers Report 2015, Part 8

Local 51, NM

On July 26, 2012 the Roswell unit negotiated wage increases of six percent for the past 3 years with no take-ways. The union limited restrictions on job disqualifications as a result of disciplinary action, revised the grievance procedure and demanded on line job descriptions. A wage opener is scheduled for this year. The local forced a settlement in their first arbitration case. The city had restricted driving privileges for three Local 51 members while threatening their employment altogether. This action was based on a policy that was not given or negotiated with the union. The union members were made whole and overtime that was missed was paid to the members.

Locals 127, WY and 197, OR

Due to the 5-year contract extensions negotiated by these local unions with PacifiCorp, no general negotiations were necessary during the period covered by this report

Locals 132, 483, and 522, CA

Southern California Gas Company is the second largest natural gas distribution company in the world. They employ over 4,500 utility workers, members of three local unions; 132, 483 and 522. Of these, approximately 3,900 are members of Local 132.

UWUA Legislation signed by the Governor SB 705 & SB 1371

It was reported to the 29th Constitutional Convention that these locals were sponsoring gas safety legislation in California. This bill, SB 705, was a direct response to a gas explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno, California in 2010. We are happy to report to the 30th Constitutional Convention that Governor Brown signed SB 705 on October 7, 2011. The new law makes safety the highest priority in the operation of a gas utility system, requires each gas utility to establish a safety plan to achieve specified outcomes with robust and ongoing participation of utility employees in plan development and implementation, while maintaining an adequate work force.

In 2013, UWUA President Langford encouraged these locals to partner with the BlueGreen Alliance on behalf of the Utility Workers National campaign to rebuild the country’s infrastructure in gas, electric and water, putting America back to work. In response to President Langford’s recommendation, Locals 132, 522 and 483 sponsored SB 1371. This bill directs the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to develop and implement a comprehensive statewide strategy to reduce emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and the main component of natural gas, by preventing and repairing gas leaks throughout California.

SB 1371, authored by state Senator Mark Leno, mandates the timely repair of all gas leaks and the identification of best practices in gas leak detection and repair. In conjunction with President Langford’s national program, SB 1371 will result in the employment of California workers, starting with our own Utility Workers Union. With support from the national UWUA, BlueGreen Alliance, California AFL-CIO, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and others, SB 1371 was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 21, 2014.

2015 Southern California Gas Company’s General Rate Case Filed with the California Public Utilities Commission:

On July 29, 2014 in Washington, DC, UWUA President Langford attended a conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz. This meeting included CEOs of major corporations and utilities and union leaders from around the country. In this meeting Debbie Reed, CEO of Sempra Energy (parent to the Southern California Gas Company), challenged President Langford to support the gas company’s request for a rate increase. In response, Locals 132, 483 and 522 joined together and agreed to support all revenues sought by the company in exchange for assurances that ratepayer dollars will be directed to areas that will increase safety, customer service, maintenance, skill building and training. Below are some examples:

Arbitration Proceeding “Contracting Out” (Locals 132 & 522)

Under the leadership of Local 132 President Robert Hoffman, the local challenged the gas company regarding the widespread contracting out of construction and distribution work typically performed by the bargaining unit members. The current collective bargaining agreement allows for only a certain percentage of contracting out. A grievance was filed in 2012, as the result of an explosion of contracting out that the union believed exceeded allowed percentages in the collective bargaining agreement. Local 132 was supported by Local 522 President Dave Sherman, whose members perform the “planning process” functions that were going directly to contractors. After two days of testimony it was clear to the arbitrator that the company was using “percentages” based on second-hand information, and not based on any electronic data! The arbitrator has offered to mediate a transparent process that would hold the company accountable to contractual limits. This arbitration will be the key to bring back our work and hire more utility workers!

California Water Utility Council

Locals 160, 160C, 160D, 205, 283 and 484, which negotiate as a council with California Water Service Company, reached a 3-year agreement in December 2011. The new contract provided for a 3.25% wage increase for 2012, with a re-opener for the final two years, as well as other improvements and no take-aways.

The council negotiated a 6-year agreement in December, 2014 that locked in the defined benefit pension plan for the duration of the contract and provided wage increases of 3.25%, 2.75% and 2.75% with increases for the last 3 years tied to changes in the CPI-U. Medical premiums were increased, with creation of a joint union-company committee to redesign the healthcare plans.

The council continued its practice of meeting monthly with management to identify and resolve outstanding issues.

Local 246, CA

This period has been exceptionally difficult for Local 246. In 2012, the local opened negotiations with Southern California Edison Company for a new CBA with the company demanding a virtual gutting of the contract. After holding firm through protracted negotiations, agreement was reached in April 2013 on a new 3-year agreement, absent most of the company’s extreme demands.

However, on June 7 of that year, Edison announced the permanent closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), where most of Local 246’s members worked. The company and union entered into effects bargaining over the shutdown, and in August 2013 an agreement was reached, providing for a process for force reduction and severance benefits for displaced workers. Membership at SONGS has dropped from nearly 900 to about 100, and is still declining.

In January 2014, Local 246 entered into negotiations with NRG for the El Segundo and Long Beach generating plants. A four-year agreement was reached in March, providing for wage increases of 2.75%, 2.6%, 2.6% and 2.9% as well as other contract improvements.

Local 246 opened negotiations with Golden State Water (GSW) in August, 2014. The contract was repeatedly extended month-by-month while the company stalled on supplying meeting dates. On March 1, 2015, GSW notified the union that it was allowing the contract to lapse and that it would no longer recognize the union as the bargaining representative, claiming to have received a petition signed by a majority of the members of the unit. Local 246 is pursuing an internal campaign to force an election to establish that it does in fact represent a majority.

Local 259, CA

In negotiations with San Jose Water Company, Local 259 reached a new 3-year agreement in December, 2013, with annual wage increase of 2%, 2% and 3%, with an increase in medical premiums.

Locals 508, 508A & 511, CA

These three local unions represent workers at California American Water.

In July 2011, the Local 511 agreement was allowed to roll over for a year with no changes. In July 2012, a new contract was signed providing for strengthening of the seniority language and wage increases of 2.5%, 2% and 2.25%.

On Christmas Day, 2012, Local 511 and the entire UWUA suffered a terrible loss with the premature death of Local 511 President and National Executive Board member Tina Haynes. The local union is working with the company to name the new Monterey desalination plant after her.

Local 508 and 508A reached agreements on new 3-year contracts effective September 1, 2012 and February 1, 2013 respectively, providing wage increases of 2% each year.

Local 557, CA

In February 2013, Local 557 reached agreement with the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District for a new 4-year MOU, providing annual wage increases based on the CPI=W.

Local 609, OR

On January 9, 2014, this Medford unit negotiated a three-year agreement with a wage increase of 6%. The local received an increase in paid personal day allotments to six, and an increase in the boot allowance. In 2015, the local negotiated a dental plan paid entirely by the employer with zero contribution from Local 609 union members.