March & April Report

Business Manager’s Report for March & April 2021

 

The months of March and April were very busy and as much as I hate meeting virtually with the different employers and other Union Officers it made it easier to squeeze in all of the meetings. Our monthly Executive Board meetings have also been held virtually over the last year while our monthly membership meetings have been cancelled all together, but I am glad to report that we can hold one in person for May.

Contract negotiations with Energy Harbor (Little Blue Site) continued in March and into April while the contract expired on February 15th. We were able to reach an agreement in early April and the contract was ratified by the 10 members that work there by a vote of 8-2. It was a 3-year agreement that will see their wages increase by at least 9.9% with the opportunity for them to go up as much as 15% over that time, depending on the amount of time they operate the heavy equipment that they have on-site. Other improvements included 5 weeks of vacation after 20 years (it was 24 years), they received a one-time payment of $7,750 and an increase in the Company’s contribution (8% & 9%) to Defined Contribution plan in exchange for eliminating (freezing) the Pension Plan.

While we were in the middle of negotiations with Energy Harbor, we were just starting contract negotiations with the Port Authority for a contract that expired on April 30th. While we have not reached an agreement yet, we are getting close with the help of a Federal Mediator and continue to meet and work towards a fair deal.

During March we were also meeting with Duquesne Light to negotiate an MOU for the Switching Dispatchers in which we eliminated some of the pay progression steps that enables them to get to the top step quicker. This also increased the pay for some of the current Dispatchers by about $10,000 a year along with a retention bonus of $7,500 for staying in that position for 3 years. The MOU also included a 12-hour schedule and rules that go with it. The Switching Dispatchers approved the MOU by a vote of 10-0. The Dispatchers will also receive back pay going back to January 2020 for turnover time, which the Company will payout a total of over $100,000 to those members.

We have started preparing for the Beaver Valley contract negotiations which expires September 30th, I am expecting them to want to freeze the pension like they have with the other Unions and us at Little Blue. We will need 100% support from the membership for us to fight to keep this benefit. I know our committee is up for the challenge and will do whatever it takes to get a fair agreement for those members. As with all negotiations the Company gets information from our own membership, sometimes it helps us and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the message our members send. My point is, that the membership has more power than they realize, and they play a very important role and can tip the scales in our favor if the right message is sent, solidarity, solidarity, solidarity!!

On August 25th an arbitration was held for a terminated member from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Plant, and we recently received the award from the Arbitrator, and it was not what we were expecting. The Arbitrator upheld the termination, which we feel was a terrible award based on the case that was presented, our attorney was not happy with the outcome either.

There was an arbitration held on April 16th for a member from Duquesne Light that was terminated for sleeping during work hours, our attorney did a good job in presenting this, but we realize these types of cases are tough to win and comes down to the discretion of the Arbitrator. We will not have the results for a few months and will update you at that time.

We have two more arbitrations scheduled for July, one is for a terminated member from Beaver Valley and the other is for Duquesne Light and how they moved a lineman that had temporary medical restrictions to a different position and location. We have several other grievances we will be picking arbitrators for in the next couple of weeks.

In April I was asked by our International leadership if I could find a young field worker to introduce the President of the United States on National TV. I knew we had many capable men and women that could do a great job in representing the IBEW and our Local, but one stood out in my mind more than any others. Michael Fiore who is a young lineman, Executive Board member and the son of the former President of our local Vic Fiore, eventually agreed to do it. Michael is now our most famous lineman and has done numerous interviews and is always promoting the IBEW and our local every chance he gets. Thank You Michael, on behalf of all the Officers and members of this local for the great job you did in representing us.

I would like to give a brief report on a serious accident that involved an underground splicer from DLC, you can find a more detailed report under local 29 news. Two things that I want to report on, one is that the member that was injured in this event seems to be recovering well and in good spirits. The other is I want to comment on what a great job the rest of his crew did in responding and possibly saving his life. It really shines a light on how important rescue training is and even though I hope you never need it, it really can save a life, whether it’s a co-worker or someone you love since it doesn’t just apply to work. That crew should be proud of the job they did, I know I’m proud of them and glad they are a part of this union.

Lastly, I would like touch on Covid and vaccinations, each of you have a choice to make as far as vaccinations go, but I urge everyone to follow the science and get vaccinated as soon as possible, it is the fastest way to get back to normal. Please continue to follow the CDC guidelines, they are the experts.

We have a new website that also includes an App so it is easier to get up to date information right on your phone, so take a few minutes and download the App, any problems you can call the hall for help.

 

Upcoming Events

Monthly Union Meeting – May 12th 7:30pm  at the Steamfitters Hall

Golf Outing – June 6th – Blackhawk Golf Course

Labor Day Parade – Sept. 6th  -  Downtown Pgh

The Year Ahead 2021

 I look forward to every new day of 2021 because I know we will be one day closer to beating COVID which means everyone will be healthier and safer. I'm not sure what the future will look like, but I am sure it will be somewhat different than it was before COVID. I expect some changes to be made by the employers that will be beneficial to both the Company and the employees, but no matter what the change is we feel they must meet with the Union and have our agreement.

We have 3 contracts that will expire in 2021 with the first being Energy Harbor Little Blue (Formerly Bruce Mansfield - IBEW 272) currently we have 10 employees under that contract that expired on February 15th and are on a contract extension while we continue to work on an agreement.

On March 4th we will start the Port Authority contract negotiations, the one year agreement that we agreed to last year due to COVID will expire on April 30th, we were hoping things would be back to normal by now. We will start by meeting virtually but we may meet face to face at some point before the expiration date.

Beaver Valley Nuclear Plant is the 3rd contract and will expire on September 30th and covers close to 400 members. We are expecting the Company to want many changes to our current contract so it will be more important than ever that we show them our solidarity and support of the Union. We will be sending out surveys in March to find out what is important to our members, so please take time to fill them out.

In 2020 we had a couple of arbitrations but for the most part we were limited to on how many we could arbitrations we were able to do since many arbitrators did not want to arbitrate with COVID in full force. We currently have 2 arbitrations (both are for terminated members) that we have picked arbitrators for and we have a date of April 16th for one of them. We continue to try and settle as many grievances as possible, but if we can't come to an agreement we will push it to arbitration in order of priority and importance to the membership. These are just some of the challenges we face in 2021 and I will do my best to communicate others as they come and update you on all important matters and results of the issues that arise.

No Complaining Challenge

Go a week without complaining about anything and see how it changes your life and team. Instead of complaining about what you don't have, appreciate what you do have. Instead of complaining about other people, think about something good about them. Instead of complaining about problems, look for solutions. Focus on the positive and help overcome negativity.

Share and invite coworkers to take the challenge too!!