Official Bargaining Reports Will Come From Here

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Last week, Local 36 held its final union meeting before the RG&E contract expires. I know that some of the members were unable to attend this important meeting, so I want to make sure that anyone who didn't attend hears my report directly from me and not through the rumor mill. Below is my report on negotiations. Please read it through carefully and continue to check future issues of The CONDUIT for more information on the progress of bargaining.

Bargaining Update:

Formal negotiations for a successive collective bargaining agreement (CBA) began on March 27th, 2018. Since then we have sat down with the company for formal sessions on March 28, April 10-12, April 16-17, April 30 and May 1. We have also scheduled additional negotiations days for May 8-10, May 22-24 and May 29-31.

After setting the dates we established the ground rules, which were in line with those from previous CBA negotiations. These included things like time, date and place of negotiations as well as communication in the media, the company paying for the union's negotiating committee's wages and more. It was all very standard.

Both parties have presented their initial sets of proposals for bargaining. Not all proposals have been made by both sides however. We have set a deadline of May 8th to have all proposals submitted. However, we believe that the bulk of what we need to work on has been submitted.

At this current time, we can not talk about specific proposals/ counter proposals, tentative agreements or the like since they may change on a day-to-day basis. Instead I can give you a high level overview of what we are facing.

We created a very reasonable set of proposals based on the feedback that we received from the membership in the recent surveys, February union meeting and comments and concerns that have been expressed over the last 5 years.  Some of those include improving wages and benefits immediately and in the future, as well as improving our quality of life. We believe that these are perfectly reasonable demands that will allow RG&E to remain profitable and flexible.

On the Management's side, some of their concerns include the elimination of job security provisions, subcontracting, work scheduling, health/welfare benefits, guaranteed callout response, changes to miscellaneous work rules, take-home vehicles, expansion of management rights, and blanket waivers of the union's bargaining rights.

As you can see, this isn't going to be a simple contract extension with minor changes. Management is seeking major changes that cut to the heart of why we work here and why we chose to work union.  Remember, we are not weak, helpless at-will employees, we are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and we will fight for the fair and equitable compensation and quality of life that we deserve. There will be changes, no doubt, but we seek to improve our lives, not worsen them. This is not a one sided equation, our interests are just as important as the Company's and we will not let them dictate what we agree to.

In order for your bargaining committee to succeed, we need your support. Management needs to know that you, the members, stand behind us. They need to know that the issues that we bring up in bargaining are important to you. Often, the bosses are ignorant to the issues that affect their employees. Simple acts of solidarity will let Management know we mean business. Things like wearing your Local 36 t-shirt when you can. We have also ordered buttons for everyone to wear and will be handing them out once they arrive.  The theater of bargaining extends past the bargaining room.It will be noticed when everyone is wearing their t-shirts or buttons. It is also important to remember to do your job to the best of your ability in the coming weeks. We do not want to give Management the ability to target anyone.

We do not expect to know how things will turn out until we get closer to May 31st, that's just how these things go. Between now and then we will be in the heat of negotiations and there will not be much to report on since we will  be working to see it through-but if things go south of course we will provide instruction on next steps.