A state appeals court upheld the decision by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to give PSEG the ZEC subsidy back in April 2019. PSEG currently is in the process of seeking renewal of the zero emission certificates (ZECs), a ratepayer subsidy that now amount to roughly $300 million a year. The subsidy costs each residential customer about $70 a year. A decision on whether to renew the ZEC-2 subsidy, and at what level, is expected by the BPU by the end of April…stay tuned.
We have now entered the one-year mark of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and with vaccines now becoming more readily available, we hope the tide starts to turn against the virus. PSEG and the Union have been making requests and continue to speak to whomever will listen to get our workers up on the eligibility list. PSEG has had some success with area hospitals to partner up and provide vaccines for our workers. I urge all to continue to seek opportunities to get the vaccine.
With the Company’s target of reentry sometime this summer, we continue to discuss options to get our folks up to speed on the training front for all classifications, as they continue an aggressive hiring schedule. Resources for training and restrictions due to the pandemic are tough hurdles to overcome, however know that we will work diligently to accomplish the needs and keep everyone safe.
As the weather gets better and restrictions loosen on gatherings both indoors and outdoors, we are looking at many options to attempt some sense of normalcy, and get back to having Union Meetings hopefully by the summer.
Again, I would like to thank all the members and your families for your continued due diligence in keeping yourselves safe and healthy.
Stay Safe and Mask Up!
Distribution North, Transmission, FMC Report
We were notified on March 18 that each division received their initial allotment of FR face-masks. This is good news for those who have had to change from the non-FR masks to the 40 cal. face shields when doing certain tasks. They should be available in the storerooms. The Company is partnering with a few hospitals in the state to offer vaccines to employees who live or work in the areas in which they are located. The hospitals participating as of now are University Hospital in Newark, Hackensack University Medical Center, Cooper University Hospital, and Salem Medical Center. If there is any availability, local management may be reaching out to eligible employees who have expressed interest in receiving the vaccine. This is a voluntary process.
More and more of our members are getting vaccinated. A small percentage are having a reaction or side effects. If you get the shot and feel a bit under the weather, we are being directed not to call the Pandemic Hotline, but rather Sedgwick. There have been a few members who have called the Hotline reporting they received the vaccine and are experiencing side effects; they have been told to report to work. When asked the usual questions in the workplace when beginning a shift, our members answer affirmatively if they are not feeling 100%. This is prompting supervision to act according to the process and asking them to call Sedgwick and go home. Please note the date of the vaccine and side effects, and do as instructed. Although the Pandemic Hotline is telling you to go to work, these reactions are real. Call Sedgwick and take the time to recover.
As always, keep an eye on each other and watch each other’s back.
Distribution South, Central Report
I would like to thank the members of our NXT UP committee who helped us in the move to the new Union hall. We could not have made the transition without them. The State has increased the number of people for indoor gatherings to 25, and the new hall has the room to have that many people and still be able to socially distance from each other. With the rule change, we will be scheduling shop steward meetings in the next few weeks at the new Union hall. We will continue to follow the State guidelines on gathering and make adjustments as needed. Scott is looking to start holding general membership meeting outdoors in the near future.
As I reported last month, the Overhead and Underground training has started, and we will continue to talk with the company on how the training is progressing. We will be meeting with the Company to talk about training for Substation Operators next week. I’m sure we will be talking about training for every classification as the State and the Company lower or raise restrictions on the number of people that are allowed to meet both indoors and outdoors. We will make the adjustments needed to keep training ongoing.
Salem has recently lost 6 technicians to retirement. The problem is they possessed a lion share of the expertise as far as plant systems and day to day knowledge, which will hurt until we get more hired and qualified.
We have a complete mess with the company trying to curb 0160 rest period and thinking outside the box for overtime asking. They feel it is quite alright to ask and force the 7 day off person, so they don’t have to pay rest period. NRC Fatigue Management rules are the background issue.
Another issue we have been dealing with is the Holiday pay for Salem 12-hour shop for Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving 2020. We have been more than patient and will look at Arbitration for this issue.
Lastly, we have a big problem with the new parking lot policy. Everyone needs to know the ramifications of violations. First time offense and you receive a ticket. Second offense and your Site Access is placed on hold until you speak to a management person. The third offense is a 1-year loss of Site Access, and if you can’t have access, it will be a huge mess. Management is watching vehicles driving the parking lot and reporting cross cutting the lot or going in the opposite direction of the arrows clearly marked. We are processing this grievance to the fourth step. This is a big deal to pay attention to. Thank you.
Gas Department Message
The Company is looking at a few new pieces of equipment to introduce in both Appliance Service and Distribution departments. In the Service department, the
Company is looking at an RMLD (remote methane leak detector) very similar to the RMLD we us in Distribution, which would help locate gas leaks. In Distribution, the Company is looking at new platforms to replace DWMS CAD systems. I will keep everyone updated as new updates are available. Both Distribution and Appliance Service Training committees are meeting and discussing further equipment upgrades.
Some good news on the COVID front: as more companies become approved to release the vaccine, we are seeing more availability. That should only make it easier to get one if you want one. Make sure you are signed up if you want the COVID-19 vaccine. The company should be receiving some new FR face coverings which are 2 ply, and they should be hitting the storerooms very soon.
Line Clearance Message
In Davey Tree, we had a large lay off due to loss of work on PSEG property; but the good news is that Nelson Tree and Asplundh Tree picked up our members that were laid off. We have a new line clearance tree company signed up with our local—Obsidian-Integrated. They are looking for help.
Also, Asplundh Tree in the Sussex area are looking for help to add 6 more crews.
Fossil has begun its spring outage season in anticipation of the summer run. We have members up in Albany, NY to support our brothers from Local 97 at Bethlehem Energy Center. We have upcoming outages at Linden and Nuclear. Our guys at the CMS shop at Cliff Road will be supporting Nuclear once again representing gas mobile construction. The divestiture of the fossil plants is ongoing, progressing to phase 2, which will involve site visits from the parties interested in making potential offers on the plants. The word is that there is a lot of interest in purchasing the plants. The ideal situation would be for one buyer to purchase the fleet. This would enable us to continue to share resources between the sites, potentially bringing more value to the buyers and security to our members. We will continue to pass along any information that becomes available.
For the month of March, we have been in the process of moving to our new Union Hall, located at 299 Ward Street in East Windsor, NJ. It is less than a mile from our previous building on Franklin Street. This move marks a milestone in the history of Local 94 in that we have a facility that we can now grow into to better serve our members. We can’t wait to share our new home with everyone. We are hopeful that the state will relax the restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings soon, so we can get back to having regular Union meetings whether indoors or out. When you are nearby, stop into our new Union Hall for a tour.