Here are the most recent updates from your ESC Union. These updates include information about storm staffing and pre-arranged overtime, estimates, remote work, STIP, and the annual promotions process.
Storm staffing and pre-arranged overtime
The 2022 & 2023 storms were the most significant storms since the storms of 1994 and 1995. The ‘94-’95 storms resulted in massive power outages that overwhelmed PG&E’s ability to restore service quickly, resulting in ratepayers having to wait months for their power to be restored.
A combination of not funding vegetation management and insufficient staffing was largely to blame for the ‘94 & ‘95 outages and the slow restoration of service. PG&E’s insufficient storm response resulted in public anger that brought regulatory intervention.
How PG&E responded to the 2022 and 2023 storms was not without its weaknesses but unlike in ‘94 and ‘95, PG&E was not overwhelmed. PG&E’s shift to pre-arranging storm support is what made the difference – as opposed to its past practice of reacting and then relying primarily on calling in support.
ESC-represented employees played a critical role in the storm response. Hundreds of members supported operations in the command center, directed switching, mapped and estimated jobs, and stood on 911 standby.
The recent storms exposed the need to update provisions of our ESC contract (aka Collective Bargaining Agreement) for pre-arranged overtime (POT). This is particularly important since the agreement of LOA 22-18 (EOT (2X) rate for POT (normally 1.5X)) facilitated more ESC members working pre-arranged overtime supporting PG&E’s storm response.
Over the years, ESC’s contract regarding emergency overtime EOT (when members are called out and react to emergencies) has evolved to account for first the RMCs, then Design Centers, and available technologies. For instance, EOT contract language provides a mechanism for members from multiple headquarters to share EOT. However, our contract provisions for pre-arranged overtime (POT) do not. Guidelines for pre-arranged overtime provisions were last revised in 2000. One step toward improving POT language would be adopting the EOT contract language that provides a mechanism for members from multiple headquarters to share POT.
Management has also identified issues they want to address, such as adequate support from ESC classifications. The parties involved are initiating an effort to revise the guidelines for pre-arranged overtime. Revising the guidelines for pre-arranged overtime will help better support the restoration of utility service to the public, as outlined in contract section 2.1. Our mutual commitment to equal distribution of pre-arranged overtime of qualified members is stated in contract section 17.5.
The Union recognizes addressing POT and storm response is a priority for many members. To ensure diverse perspectives, the Union is seeking representatives from GC classifications, a scheduler, an SNBR/IPE, a mapper, a gas estimator, and electric estimators to participate in a committee to address these issues. If you want to volunteer or nominate a member, please contact AED Carl Harland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Union plans to schedule online meetings to gather feedback and priorities from its members and provide updates on the Committee’s progress.
LA 23-14: ESC qualified job owners to perform estimates
PG&E is currently facing a crisis in service planning. The Union agreed to a temporary arrangement allowing former senior estimators and ADEs who are SNRs and IPE to voluntarily perform simple electrical estimates.
Shockingly, it takes an average of 330 days (THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DAYS) for a ratepayer to get service from PG&E! There are several reasons why this timeline has grown, such as the prioritization of resources to meet maintenance and wildfire mitigation plan commitments and other factors.
Unfortunately, these service delays have damaged the company’s reputation and resulted in condemnation from municipalities, regulators, and legislators. Some legislators are attempting to take advantage of this by putting forth SB 284, a bill requiring PG&E to solicit bids for all construction work over $10,000 and award the work to the lowest bidder.
This proposed legislation would negatively affect IBEW and ESC members’ employment security and follows previous unsuccessful attempts to attack our employment security. This bill would also result in unfavorable outcomes for ratepayers and new business applicants by creating delays in the construction process.
It is also important to recognize that our sisters and brothers in Service Planning and Design (SP&D) often face the brunt of customer frustrations. That is why we all need to do what we can to support the estimators who are NBRs, SNBRs, and IPEs that work in SP&D.
The Union has been working with management to address this crisis in service planning. While progress has been made, it will take time for PG&E to dig itself out of this hole. It is important to note that estimates by SNBRs and IPEs are largely intended to be simple electric jobs, as electric estimating is a constraint for service planning, not gas estimating since electric estimating was re-directed away from SP&D twice in the last two years.
Making working remotely work
This is a reminder that it is your professional responsibility to include a phone number in your Outlook profile that you actively monitor during work hours. It’s essential to be just as accessible while working remotely as you would be in the office, especially for field personnel who may not have easy access to Teams or Email.
Unfortunately, there is a perception that remote workers are less available, a perception we should all work to dispel. Let’s all do our part to make working remotely work!
In a previous bulletin, the Union informed members about a grievance filed by the Union on behalf of a Business Manager regarding the reduction of their performance modifier below the negotiated ranges for the “upper L” STIP paid in 2023. The grievance is still under review and updates will be provided as the process continues.
Additionally, the Union objected to unilateral changes made to STIP eligibility for individuals on leave, including PFL, military, and other types of leaves. Subsequently, management rescinded the eligibility changes, attributing the announcement to an error.
65 members advance through ESC’s annual promotion process
Sixty-five ESC members moved up in their careers last year through the union-negotiated annual promotion process.
Once a year, members in various monthly classifications can be promoted to the next level in their classification by simply submitting their resumes and an application.
In 2022, 155 candidates threw their hats into the ring and were considered for promotion by panels consisting of two ESC members and two members from management.
Of the 155 candidates, 91 – nearly 60% — were recommended for promotion, and virtually all of them received a unanimous recommendation. The Lines of Businesses opened up spots for the 65 members who were promoted as of Dec. 1, 2022.
Candidates made their submissions in the Summer and the panels made their final recommendations by November. Some 82 ESC members participated as panelists.
John Mader, President of ESC remarked, “At a time when spending cuts seem to be the theme of the day, we are proud our union remains a vehicle for well-earned career advancement for so many of our members.” “Congratulations to those promoted and big thank-yous to the members who volunteered as panel members, without whom this process could not work, he added”
This ESC effort was spearheaded by Roberto Gonzalez-Ramos, the PG&E Unit’s Vice President, General Office, a Senior Consulting Project Engineer in Electric Substation, and staff member Ken Thorbourne.
The annual promotion process will kick off again this year on June 15th. For more information, please check under the Toolkit on the Labor Relations intranet page in the folder titled ESC Monthly Advancement Process.