Why Join ESC Local 20 at PG&E?
A PROFESSIONAL UNION FOR PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES
THE RIGHT TO NEGOTIATE – A VOICE AT WORK
ESC Local 20 already has an extensive (150 pages+) contract with PG&E covering over 100 job classifications, representing 40 years of negotiated improvements. ESC Local 20 members elect a committee to negotiate the contract with management, and it is not finalized until ratified by a vote of all the employees covered by the contract. If you join ESC Local 20, you and your coworkers will bargain specific items particular to your group. When the next general contract negotiation comes up, you will join together with all the other members of ESC Local 20 to negotiate wage raises, new policies, etc.
PROTECTION FROM UNILATERAL CHANGES
Many major companies in recent years have unilaterally changed policies for white-collar employees for all kinds of things: retirement, health benefits, pay systems, promotional policies, etc. Of course unionized employees are not immune to management cut-backs, but at least management has to negotiate with them before making changes. Although unionized employees in the airlines also had to make concessions, they were able to negotiate more favorable terms than non-union employees.
Having a fair process to resolve disputes is one of the most significant benefits of being in a union. If you have a disagreement with management, our resolution procedure moves up through several levels of management before finally going to outside arbitration, if necessary. This means that your managers don’t get the final say.
This is true for performance reviews as well. There is no “forced ranking” for ESC represented employees. Every employee is considered on their own merits, and if you disagree with your supervisor over your review – especially if it materially affects your compensation, possibilities for advancement, etc. – you have the right to challenge that review through the grievance procedure.
We try hard to resolve issues with local managers – and the knowledge that the ultimate level of appeal is to an unbiased arbitrator outside of PG&E helps both sides to reach agreement. ESC Local 20 has filed and won many grievances on a variety of issues, including:
- Individual Employee Discipline
- Scheduling Procedures
- Transfer Rights
- Promotions and Demotions
- Overtime and Pay
Many non-union employees feel that they cannot advance in their pay band. All too often, wage increases at PG&E happen along with adjustments to the pay band; the result is that although your pay has gone up, your position in the pay band has not changed. STIP bonuses can be substantial, but they don’t raise your base pay. Some PG&E departments have given lump sums instead of base salary increases — lump sum payments are especially damaging to retirement, since 401(k) is not included, and it does not go towards the pension calculation either; also, every year into the future your pay is less than it would be have been if the lump sum had been a base-building raise.
The union system is different. All union-represented employees are guaranteed to reach the top of their pay band, provided they have adequate performance evaluations. This is because union employees get an annual Progressive Wage Increase in addition to the annual General Wage Increase, unless they are already at the top pay for their job classification. The GWI moves up your pay band while maintaining your position in the band. The PWI helps you move upwards within your pay band until you reach the top. In other words, ESC represented employees get 2 raises a year. The PWI moves employees upwards in the band from year to year, so that everyone reaches the top.
Many ESC Local 20 represented employees have language which guarantees they reach the top of their scale in 5 years. Other ESC Local 20 employees have language which requires them to pass a test in their field before advancing to higher levels of pay.
When you and your coworkers join ESC Local 20, you can negotiate a pay system which you feel is fair and fits your needs.
Many employees ask whether they will be paid overtime if they become union represented. There are both hourly and monthly-paid (“salaried” or “exempt”) employees in ESC.
Many groups such as Distribution Engineers, Project Managers and most professional engineering groups have negotiated systems where they keep flexibility over their schedules, but are paid for working additional hours. DE’s do not get charged sick or vacation time unless they leave work for at least 4 hours. But overtime hours worked are paid only at their regular hourly rate, not time and a half or double time.
A few groups have converted from monthly to hourly status. This is rare, but in those cases the employees involved saw major increases to the amount of overtime pay they earned for working additional hours. ESC will not force employees to convert to hourly status.
ESC Local 20 believes that all employees should have equal opportunity for career advancement. Not everyone will get promoted, but processes for promotion should be fair and transparent. If you didn’t get promoted, you should at least know the reason, and also know what you need to do in order to get promoted in the future.
For monthly employees, the ESC contract guarantees advancement for qualified employees to the next career step before management can bring in higher-level employees from outside the group. There are also promotional processes which are more objective than the non-union process, for example an employee may request a promotional review by a panel made up of both supervisors and co-workers.
When there are career opportunities in other classifications, these are filled by interviews in which employees get an equal say as supervisors, and union-represented members get first consideration for 50% of job openings. Being ESC-represented will give you access to those openings that are reserved for ESC represented employees.