Cecil writes: As I drove down Hydraulic heading towards 250 at about 1:15 p.m. today, I saw many people gathered on the sidewalk outside (I think) Dominion Power (I’m not positive what business they were in front of). They had signs saying they were on strike, and I thought I saw “International Brotherhood of Electricians” or something like that. Anyone know what’s up?
16 thoughts on “Striking Electricians?”
Three thousand electrical workers are now striking in VA. The story is in the Times-Dispatch.
Sorry about the empty posting. I was going to say something stupid but thought better of it.
The story says they’re striking because retirees’ insurance premiums are going up. Aren’t everyone’s insurance premiums going up? That’s what insurance premiums do.
I saw one of these guys driving down 29 with complaints written all over his car. These guys are hard core!
Yeah, my living expenses tend to increase as well. Funny how that happens. I guess the unionistas would prefer their living expenses be passed along to the consumer, so that our living expenses can increase even more, while theirs remain subsidized (by us).
I’ll keep that in mind the next time I have to wait 5 hours for them to come get our power back on after a thunderstorm.
You’re making a lot of judgments based simply on the statement that their premiums are going up. You have no idea how much, and why. Unions are there to protect the workers from over greedy corporations, something that they definitely need. US corporations love setting up shop in countries where unions aren’t allowed and exploiting the workers. The workers in this country and all around the world need all the protection they can get, especially with bush running things. If you want to complain about costs and expenses being ‘handed down’ to consumers why don’t you go yell at all the ceo’s and executives, who often have salaries in the millions of dollars, which I have yet to see a reason for…
You write as if management of Dominion Power (or any other corporation) had no choice but to pass the cost of benefits for their employees on to the consumer. They’ve got plenty of choices–they could cut bonuses and other perks to upper management, they could trim down the golden-parachutes they award to ousted (usually awful) CEOs, etc. There’s all kinds of ways to run your business more efficiently. If the leaders of Dominion Power chooses to make consumers pay more for their product in response to union demands for better wages, benefits, whatever, that’s management’s choice. Joe Underpaid Lineman is just trying to protect his future. Why don’t you get mad at the guys who have no more imagination then to say "well, I guess we’ll just have to stick it to the consumer!"
"Joe Underpaid Lineman ?"
On what do you base that statement? Couldn’t you fit "oppressed" in there somewhere?
Please! Time for a reality check. These people are making a VERY good living, with excellent benefits and superb job security. I think if you take a look at it, "Joe Underpaid Lineman’s" future is looking just fine, thank you very much.
Okay, nice sarcasm, but do you have any response to the substance of my comment–that it’s a false dichotomy to say that it’s either workers’ benefits or consumer prices? I mean, let’s grant (as you seem to want to say) that the linemen are making a SWEET living, with their excellent benefits and superb job security. My point is that it’s the owners/management that decide to raise your electrical rates to offset the cost of paying improved benefits to their employees, and management has other cost-cutting choices that they decline to make. It seems petty for you to get mad at the linemen et. al. Geez, they may have benefits and job security, but I don’t think they’re the ones living high on the hog in Colthurst Farms and sending their kids to STAB.
I think you should start by looking at:
the ceo of dominion is making a cool $3.8 Million a year, with other execs making well over 1million each. It must be hard for them to see their blue collar workers asking for help and not being able to give them any. Oh yeah here is an example of the excellent benefits that they’re getting http://jobsrv.vapower.com/JobPost.nsf/HTML/FramePage?OpenDocument&rFrame=HTML/SearchPage?OpenDocument starting pay $11.90 an hr going all the way up to $12.46 per hour!!! Those rich bastards are in such great shape! Granted that is for meter readers, but from what I’ve been able to find online EXPERIENCED linemen are looking at salaries from the mid 20 to upper 30K a year… I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that they’ve got “excellent benefits and superb job security”…. Maybe you should do a little research before you make those kind of claims. I don’t know what you consider a “VERY good living” to be, but if it mainly includes supplying food and shelter then I guess your right. I think those overpaid ceo’s should take a little pay cut, maybe drop their salary down below the million dollar mark for once and help out the people whose hard work keeps them sitting in their nice comfy office chairs. If you can give me a good reason why someone deserves to make over 3 Million a year while their workers are making so much less I’d love to hear it.
Well, first of all, the corporate culture in the US dictates that CEOs of large corporations be waaaaaaaaaaay overpaid. No argument there. That isn’t going to change any time soon, though it is asinine, irresponsible, and is creating long-term problems. And altruistic though it may seem, you’ll never see the top executives take a pay cut to fund retiree benefits. Not likely to happen, so it’s ludicrous to base an argument on that. Any increase in pay or benefits WILL DEFINITELY be passed along to the consumer. Whether it’s right or wrong is irrelevant. It’s simply a fact of life. Dominion Power will go to the various regulatory commissions and plead their case, and they’ll get their rate increase, just like they usually do.
Secondly, if you’ll check page 2 of http://www.hanover.k12.va.us/phhs/newspapr/January/8-5.pdf, you’ll see that the STARTING pay for a TRAINEE lineman is over $26K. That’s for a trainee, not an experienced worker. That’s for somebody with zero job skills and no college. That’s for somebody who doesn’t know AC from DC or positive from ground. It’s not unusual at all for an experienced, journeyman lineman to make over $50k with typical overtime. That’s not including retirement, medical, and disability benefits. Hell – their manual laborers START at over $21k!!!
Power station electricians start at the same trainee wages as linemen, but it can escalate to much more than linemen make, given enough experience. My wife’s ex is in that category. He could make even more if he wanted to do maintenance work at other plants during planned outages.
Could you provide adequate food and shelter for your family for $50-$70k a year? I hope so. And let’s not forget, pensions don’t even come out of that. Yes, it’s a VERY good living. Is it dangerous? More dangerous than sitting behind a desk, but the union and OSHA have already addressed those concerns quite well.
Often union workers exhibit blind, sometimes ignorant loyalty to their union masters – and of course they say it isn’t about the money. They almost always say that, when in fact at this point in our industrial development it’s always about the money. If these people had horrible working conditions, that would be one thing. They don’t. If they were being paid a sub-standard wage, that would be one thing. They aren’t. If they ran the risk of being laid off, too bad – that’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to work in a capitalistic society. They don’t.
If paying more each month when you send in your electric bill in order to ensure that retired electrical workers living off of fat pensions don’t experience an increase in their insurance premiums makes you feel better, then so be it. All it makes me feel is a little less able to feed, clothe, and shelter MY family.
"Well, first of all, the corporate culture in the US dictates that CEOs of large corporations be waaaaaaaaaaay overpaid. No argument there."
But so much of the argument rests right there. You’re complaining about people trying to get a little more money while there are people making millions at the top. The whole point is don’t yell at the linemen, yell at the ceo’s and executives. The only way that this culture continues to exist is that their salaries are discused in private while the average worker has to publicly strike in order to get any help. In the past couple of years their pay increase for linemen has only been around %1-2, which is pretty low (inflation has been around %3-4 for those years). I don’t know where you got the $50-70K a year figure but I find that one hard to believe (references would be nice)… I looked through power companie and job info sites and they were all listing salaries in the 30K range for experienced linemen, a far cry from your 50-70K, with a range of different options added on. I think only one had retirement, medical, disability benefites, and a pension plan listed with the rest offering just some of those options…
"Any increase in pay or benefits WILL DEFINITELY be passed along to the consumer. Whether it’s right or wrong is irrelevant. It’s simply a fact of life." Things only become a fact of life when we give in to them. You can look back at so many past struggles (not that this is on the same scale) and see that the movements came from people who wouldn’t just accept an injustice as a fact of life. Though this isn’t on the same level, it is still an injustice that needs to be addressed.
If the corporations don’t have continuous union pressure applied to them they will screw over the workers as much as they can. We all need to ask ourselves where the money really is when there is a price hike. Pressure needs to be put on corporatoins to stop paying their top people millions of dollars. The gap between rich and poor is on the rise in this country, workers need all the protection they can get.
Forgot to add these links:
Good indymedia page – dominion article is second from top right now…
Main indymedia page, article is at the top right now…
You wrote, "If paying more each month when you send in your electric bill in order to ensure that retired electrical workers living off of fat pensions don’t experience an increase in their insurance premiums makes you feel better, then so be it. All it makes me feel is a little less able to feed, clothe, and shelter MY family."
But one could just as honestly write, "If paying more each month when you send in your electric bill in order to ensure that <b>Lexus-SUV driving senior vice-presidents</b> don’t experience <b>the slightest decrease in their perks</b> makes you feel better, then so be it. All it makes me feel is a little less able to feed, clothe, and shelter MY family." And in that case, I would agree with you–when the useless greed-heads at the top refuse to budge an inch on their own compensation and consequently they take it on the consumers, it does make me feel less able to take care of my own.
I just think that you’re directing your consumer ire at the wrong target. Which is exactly what the Lexus SUV drivers want you to do, by the way. Let the consumers and the lower-echelon workers fight over scraps and demonize one another while we laugh our way to the bank and back again.
I’ve been searching for facts to backup my contention regarding pay for these guys, and found it impossible to obtain. I guess it’s one of those dirty little secrets the union doesn’t really want union sympathizers to be aware of.
An ssociated Press article in today’s Regress sheds some bright, no doubt unwanted, light on the subject.
The latest contract offer from Dominion is pretty stunning:
“Guaranteed annual pay raises would total nearly 15 percent over the life of the latest contract offer [for 5 years], bringing the average base wage to more than $51,000 before overtime, shift differentials, and supplements, the company said.”
This latest offer reduces the guaranteed pay increase from 16.5% to 15%, with the difference to be used “to fund an enhanced early retirement supplement under which employees who retire between 55 and 62 with at least 30 years of service would receive an additional $600 a month until they become eligible for Social Security.”
So now I guess we’ll get to see if the union is willing to back up their claim that this strike isn’t about money, but about retirement benefits. If these retirees can’t pay for any additional insurance premiums out of that extra $600 per month, perhaps the union will demand cash management education for their workers next time they walk out.
So, with an average base pay of over $51k, if you figure in 10 hours of OT (which isn’t uncommon), and you’re looking at over $70k/year. That’s for a lineman. For a plant electrician who works planned outages, it gets even better.
So maybe these aren’t really typical blue collar workers scraping by week to week to get by on their meager below-living-wage paychecks. WITHOUT QUESTION, such workers exist in this country, this state, and this city, but these clearly aren’t them.
Joe Underpaid Lineman. You bet! Be sure to think of him when you see that increase in your electric bill, okay? I know I will.
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