After many months of discussions and negotiations, IBEW Local 15 and ComEd have reached an agreement to officially add the Primary Technicians, Liability Representatives and Meter Readers to the Storm Restoration Process (SRP) as wire watchers. While the Primary Meter Technicians had previously been utilized for wire watching duties, they were never officially added to the SRP agreement. This is the first time the Liability Representatives and Meter Readers will be used in this capacity. The agreement requires that new employees entering these work groups will be trained on wire watching duties within six weeks of entering the position and will be provided all necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and tools required to perform this work safely. The agreement also requires the Company provide wire watchers with access to a pool of Company vehicles for wire watching duties during a SRP event and contains language to assure that employees will not be required to utilize their own vehicles for such work.
The discussions pertaining to how to make improvements to the wire watching process started back in late 2020, after the Union received a rash of complaints from employees who had been assigned to watch downed lines for extended periods without relief. Assistant Business Managers/Business Representatives Michael Freeman and Sam Studer wrapped up negotiations with the Company mid-January, and marks the final agreement that Sam signed off on prior to his retirement at the end of the month. The agreement adds approximately 60 additional wire watchers to the SRP process and hopefully provides enough support to allow for adequate relief for wire watchers. This agreement also returns work to local 15 that was being done by contractors and management employees.