Category Archives: Uncategorized

Water…. please!?

WAC 296-155-140

1) Potable water.

(a) You must provide an adequate supply of potable water in all places of employment.

(b) Portable containers used to dispense drinking water must be capable of being tightly closed and equipped with a tap. Water must not be dipped from containers.

(c) You must clearly mark any container used to distribute drinking water as to the nature of its contents and not used for any other purpose.

(d) The common drinking cup is prohibited.

(e) Where single service cups (to be used but once) are supplied, you must provide both a sanitary container for the unused cups and a receptacle for disposing of the used cups.

(f) You must thoroughly clean all water containers used to furnish drinking water at least once each week or more often as conditions require.

Vacation Fund Fees

The new vacation fund fee that was announced by letter has got a number of us a little upset. Here we went from an account that accrued a minor amount of interest to one that doesn’t accrue any. Now we are actually going to be charged  $3 per month for the account! Most of us don’t want the account in the first place!

Article XVIII of the IBEW Constitution states in Section 3 that “No assessment shall be levied by the L.U. except by majority vote of the members present…”

Did you get a vote on this?

Book study group?

There is some consideration being given to starting a study group based on a Labor Notes book, “Secrets of a Successful Organizer“. The book is a collection of ideas set in a group of lessons to be discussed and studied in a group.

Idea #1: The Organizing Attitude

  • Action is better than complaining
  • Problems are waiting for solutions
  • Solutions are collective, not individual
  • People can be brought together to make things better


Stockman more than Material Handler?

I was approached today by a fellow electrician who was concerned about a Stockman doing more than material handling. Specifically assisting a core driller with his work. Here is what the Stockman’s Agreement has to say in section 2.10:

…The Stockman may do labor tasks, but shall not install or fabricate material, and they shall not assist either a Journeyman Electrician or Apprentice in the performance of their work under the Wireman’s Agreement.

Injuries & Representation

Q: If I get injured on the job, can I request union representation?

A: Yes, you have the right to representation during any investigative interview. This includes when discussing any accident / injury as well as during any medical exam or urinalysis testing.

Q: Does the employer’s representative have to be in the room during the medical exam with the doctor / nurse?

A: No, and it is recommended that they are asked to leave the room if they attempt to enter. There has been many occasions where the employer’s representative adds pressure to the doctor / nurse to give a clean bill of health even though the patient is injured. I bet you could guess why they would do this…


Shift Start – When and Where?

Q: My foreman tells me that I should be at the gang box at the start of my shift, but I was told before to be at the break shack with everyone else when my shift starts. What does the contract say about this?

A: Section 3.16 Workers Report Time …  … Employees shall report on the job or shop ready to begin work at the designated place of the employer by starting time.

So, it seems pretty clear that the Employer can designate the place you are expected to be at the start of your shift. What is questionable however is whether they can tell some individuals to be in one place, such as the break shack, and tell others to be at a specific gang box. There are potential problems in this and any other scenario where individuals are being singled out and treated differently than the other employees.  If you are being singled out in this way, I would suggest getting your steward or representative involved in the conversation.


A Win Against Wage / Break Theft

It appears that the Hall has finally come to their senses in regards to the Washington State laws regarding break or rest periods. Granted, it did take the threat of charges being filed for misrepresentation by one member, and the continued pressure by other members for the Hall to research the problem.

L&I and a lawyer hired by the Hall agreed that a second break is due for any worker that is working more than 8 hours in a single shift. How this plays out in the law is a 10 minute break by the 3rd hour of the shift, a meal period by the 5th, and second 10 minute break by the third hour following the end of the meal period. For example a 9-10 hour day would look like this: Start at 6am, break at 9am, lunch at 11am, and finally a break by 2:30pm.

Thanks go to the members who pushed this issue, and to our representatives at the Hall for taking following through and getting the answers.