July 12th, 2022: The Union and management reached an agreement that makes continuing to work remotely possible for all ESC members. The agreement will be posted on the Union’s website.
This agreement was important because, without it, hourly paid members would have reverted to the contract with the impending “return to the office” scheduled by management on Monday, August 1. The contract does not have provisions for remote work for hourly paid members and this would have resulted in significantly more return to the office for members. The ESC PG&E Unit Board’s membership survey clearly showed this was a top concern for the overwhelming majority.
As a reminder to members, the Union has not been negotiating individual workgroup office/home schedules – rather the working conditions for the offering of and conditions of remote work. This is much like the alternative work schedule agreement. The Union does expect office/home schedules for individual work groups to be a matter for labor-management meetings and discussion – much like alternative work schedules are discussed.
Some important gains:
- A permanent contractual agreement permitting working from home for hourly paid members;
- Equitable offering provisions (barring operational need) to protect members from arbitrary or capricious supervisor decisions regarding permitting remote work;
- Defined minimum PG&E home office obligations and expense compensation;
- Minimum privacy protections like time to prepare before management can require camera usage and limits on requiring camera usage.
Provisions that make it possible to work out of state (with supervisors’ approval) up to two weeks a year.
This agreement was a high priority for the members and required negotiations. That is because our contract is in effect until 2026 and does not include provisions for hourly-paid members to work remotely, in fact, that is against the contract. The current provisions that allow working remotely is a temporary agreement to accommodate state and local health orders compelling employers to permit working from home for many workers. These state and local health orders no longer exist, and PG&E could have canceled the current temporary agreement and required members to return to the office. Knowing this, management sought significant concessions from the Union. The Union was able to mitigate or eliminate most of those demands. The agreement does include compromises, but they are significantly less than management’s initial proposals.
- This agreement alters 16.6 for hourly employees – that are working remotely. Not when working in the office.
- In short, no in-lieu payments, and ½ straight pay instead of 1-1/2 pay for the missed meal.
- When a Hybrid employee reports to a temporary headquarters, the employee shall be paid for the amount of travel time involved which is more than the employee’s normal commute to their regularly assigned Company headquarters.
- General Construction Hybrid employees will not qualify for Section 10.9 (Per Diem) while working remotely from their homes.
While the agreement has compromises, the benefits of continued remote work far outweigh any perceived losses. Management had been seeking no missed meal payment and the subtraction of your normal commute to field visits. Also, members may enjoy all the benefits of the contract (with no changes to missed meals, travel time, or G. C. per Diems) if they choose (which is your option) to work at the office. Management had sought to exclude G.C. from the agreement, offering to negotiate later. The Union sought, and achieved, an agreement that covers all ESC classifications.
After reviewing the over 1,600 survey responses, it was clear that remote work is extremely important to the vast majority of the members and that reaching this agreement, even with the compromises, is the desire of the membership. Thank you for so many members’ kind words.
Please join me in thanking the members of the bargaining committee. Caitlin Kniazewycz, Joel Foster, Rene Vasquez, Roberto Gonzalez-Ramos, Chuck Nunes, John Jones, Carl Harland, and myself. The negotiations took over two years and thirty negotiation sessions.
Members will be designated as Hybrid eligible soon. The Union has communicated to management the strong desire for remote work that the survey clearly shows (after negotiations) and is encouraged by PG&E leadership’s current stated intentions regarding remote work for ESC members. If you or your workgroup are not satisfied with the remote work remote/office balance, contact your steward or Union representative. While management does make the decisions, we have, over time, been successful in restoring or expanding alternative work schedules in many headquarters. However, the most compelling case we can make for remote work is ESC members’ professionalism which has been demonstrated in the work that continued to be done (and even increased), when most of us were sent to work at home for more than two years ago. A Q&A will be developed and distributed soon.