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TID, lineworkers continue contract talks

POSTED November 27, 2012 3:16 p.m.

Turlock Irrigation District labor negotiations, which have stretched on for more than a year and a half – and have been blamed for a lengthy electrical outage in September – will resume Wednesday.

The TID Board of Directors will meet with the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents TID linemen, in a special, closed-session meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday. TID announced the meeting Tuesday; the directors were not scheduled to meet until Dec. 11, due to Thanksgiving and an upcoming statewide water conference.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the first between the two since Oct. 30. It will mark the fourth round of negotiations since a 45 hour electricity outage struck 49 TID customers, Sept. 28-30.

During that weekend outage, TID staff attempted many times to contact line crews, represented by IBEW, to no avail. All 40 qualified TID electric workers did not answer their phones when called for help.

All after-hour and weekend service calls are performed on a voluntary basis, but the district may require lineworkers to report. However, that requirement can only be implemented if district attempts to contact lineworkers are successful.

TID then requested assistance from multiple nearby utilities, but their IBEW-represented crews declined to help. Private electric contractors were called to help, but were convinced to leave by IBEW members.

“But a TID employee, a member of the Lineworker’s union, interfered with the job, thus causing the contract crew to leave the site due to concerns by the contract crew of a potential hostile work environment,” Hashimoto said at the time.

A Pacific Gas & Electric crew ultimately repaired the lines.

Negotiations between IBEW and TID have been ongoing since April 2011. The IBEW’s contract with TID expired in December 2011, but IBEW members have continued to work under the terms of that past contract.

Unless an agreement is reached in Wednesday’s closed-session meeting, no public report will be made of the discussion which occurs.

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