After a series of power failures in 2012 that left Turlock Irrigation District's working relationship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in an impaired state, both sides were able to come to an official Memorandum of Understanding on Dec. 23.
"I would just like to say on behalf of the board that we appreciate not only line workers, but all staff at TID for the job you guys do," said TID Board president Ron Macedo. "Negotiations are always interesting and tough, so thank you for coming to a good and fair agreement."
The MOU, which was collaboratively prepared by representatives from the district and the IBEW, covers wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment effective from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2016.
"Both sides have worked hard through this process, and together with our linemen, TID looks forward to continuing the focus of providing the safe, reliable and affordable power our customers have come to rely on," said spokesperson Calvin Curtin.
According to Human Resources director Martin Purdy, the MOU details a salary adjustment that will be distributed three times over the next three years. The first adjustment-being retroactive-will have come into effect on January 1, 2014 in the form of a 3 percent increase to base pay. Those in troubleshooter positions will undergo a 5 percent increase.
This first salary adjustment will then be followed by similar increases on January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016 for employees who are rubber glove certified.
Also included in the MOU are changes to the medical plan. Effective January 1, 2014, the district will pay 85 percent of the then current tiered medical insurance rates charged to the district in the CSAC Excess Insurance Authority medical insurance rates, with employees paying the remaining 15 percent through payroll deduction.
The agreement also discussed changes to meal time allowance, vacation cash-out, dental, and other special provisions.
This MOU comes after a tense weekend in October 2012, when approximately 49 customers experienced two power outages that lasted over 45 hours. TID attempted to reach out to their 40 electrical workers, to no avail.
With no success from multiple nearby utilities, TID eventually reached on to Pacific Gas & Electric on Saturday. The power was ultimately finished at 5:41 p.m. on Sunday.
Prior to the outages, the IBEW and TID have been engaged in contract negotiations since April 2011. The contract expired in December 2011, but IBEW laborers have since worked under the terms of that past contract.
"We really appreciate all of the assistance in helping in this endeavor," said Purdy during Tuesday's meeting. "I'm sure the line workers also appreciate the ability o effectively move forward."