PSCO Negotiations Hotline Update October 23, 2017
October 16, 2017:
The Union and Company resumed contract negotiations.
The Union had, as a committee member, one of the Colorado Elected Officials that had signed onto our letter to the Company. The Company let the Union’s Negotiating Committee know that they didn’t like this person attending Negotiations, they went so far as sending B/M Eppie Martinez a letter that night stating that they thought he was a member of the public and they didn’t want him at any other negotiations. For the record, the Union selects its committee but it wasn’t worth the distraction.
The Union asked the Company what their stance was on current employee medical given the fact that open enrollment is approaching, and employees were being advised by management to consult the Union about their related concerns. The Company responded that there was content on the website stating the negotiations are ongoing and that things could change.
We then asked the Company about the status of retiree medical for those employees that have retired after May 31, 2017, the Company Spokesman responded that he was aware that the Company had been continuing provisions of the M&M Plan to these employees by “mistake” and that they were taking under advisement as to what to do moving forward. We have since been notified that the Company is no longer offering the M/M Plan to people retiring, and telling them that an option for them is COBRA. We obviously disagree with the Company’s assessment and are consulting with our attorneys on how to proceed. Please contact your Agent at the Hall if you want to retire before the end of the year and the Company told you that you won’t have retiree medical.
We again asked the Company what would be the outcome if an Agreement could not be reached at the end of the next contract, noting that when previously asked the Company had responded that many things could happen, including a work stoppage, strike, or lockout. We asked the Company how would you continue to provide safe, reliable, uninterrupted service without us? The Company’s reply was that the Union is hiding behind Interest Arbitration, and the Company has withdrawn their support for Interest Arbitration and did not have to further answer that line of questioning.
The Company was again asked what they intended to do with the money that is in an Irrevocable Trust that has been specifically bought and paid for by the ratepayers specifically for those employees covered by the M&M Plan. They again stated that they were not prepared to answer any questions about the issue and requested we submit further questions about it in writing.
The Company submitted several additional proposals; among them a term of agreement for 18 months with miniscule pay increases of 1.5% every 9 months ending November 30th. When asked why they chose such short terms and new dates they responded that they believed the Union was not taking Negotiations seriously and they would be more serious about it if the terms were shorter and Interest Arbitration was removed. The Union then countered that ridiculous claim by proposing a 5-year Term of Agreement, when the Company asked why 5 years, we responded that we were looking for stability and security for our membership.
Several other proposals by the Company were exchanged and discussed including terms for newly organized groups such as the Power Plant Planners/Schedulers and System Operations Administrative Assistants.
For the record, the Union has always taken these Negotiations seriously. In the Union’s opinion, the Company thinks that by us not accepting their egregious takeaways, that somehow translates into us not taking Negotiations seriously.
October 17, 2017:
The Union and the Company resumed Negotiations, discussing several key issues from the previous day involving the newly organized groups. Also discussed were proposals involving Energy Supply Production 12-hour shifts. Among the discussion was the position by the Company that just because a group organizes that they are not automatically entitled to a raise. The Union responded that the wages they were proposing for these groups are in line with their skill level and the value of the job, and that one of the reasons groups organize is because they are paid so poorly.
Another key issue discussed was that of Pension Plans. When asked why the Company had proposals on the table to change the Pension Plans of its Union employees, they responded that they felt the pensions were too lucrative and they wanted to be in line with other Operating Companies. When asked if the Company was in financial distress, they responded “no.”
Talks continued on other subjects such as mandatory overtime callout response and the Company’s refusal to higher the proper amount of core employees in the Gas and Line Departments. The Union again asserted its position that customers were being serviced regardless of the manpower issues.
The parties then proceeded into mediation by a Federal Mediator and negotiated until 9:00 p.m.
As a result of mediation on this day, 29 Union and Company proposals were resolved, with the intent to continue federal mediation into the next session.
October 18, 2017:
The Union and the Company resumed Mediated Negotiations. Numerous proposals and counterproposal packages were contemplated throughout the more than 13-hour session, resulting in a total of 7 additional Union and Company proposals being resolved.