PG&E management has asked to include certain ESC classifications in their planned offering of voluntary separation packages. Management cites a need to reduce earnings-impacting expenses as the driver of the offering of the separation packages. The Union is concerned about how the work will be done, the reduction of experienced employees, the impact that will have on operations, and if a reduction of employees will drive more contracting. Experience from previous similar efforts has had consequences that required the need to re-hire many previous employees.
To be clear, this is not an offer of severance under the contract or an early retirement package. The offer is a lump sum of money, an additional transitional payment, and a health and welfare subsidy to be offered in exchange for separating as an employee and terminating employment – the same offer being extended to management employees. In a practical sense, most members that would be eligible and elect to take a voluntary separation package would be retirement eligible.
The offer is to employees over 55 years of age and with greater than 10 years of service in specific classifications system-wide by seniority. There are a specific number of offers per classification. The list was developed by management – not the Union.
Though the Board is very concerned about the effort to reduce the number of employees and the impact these reductions could have on the remaining members, in the end, the ESC PG&E Unit Executive Board has decided to allow these offerings. Most of these members are planning to retire soon anyway, and many members have expressed a desire to consider an offer. The Union has also secured a two-year commitment that PG&E will not contract out more base work than these classifications do and a number of commitments for prospective members in their first contract negotiations.