The city of San Francisco’s top leaders unanimously support the 2.5 billion USD plan to take over Pacific Gas and Electric Company power lines. However, a powerful union opposes any transfer. This is because such an endeavor would definitely hurt workers.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Mayor London Breed made the formal offer to Pacific Gas and Electric about 3 weeks ago. Later on, they both followed up the idea during a meeting with pacific gas and electric’s chief Bill Johnson. Interestingly, the supervisors also unanimously supported the move.
“It is ‘very unusual’ to have the mayor, city attorney and city utilities commission all 100% aligned on this issue,” says Supervisor Hillary.
Pacific Gas and Electric’s Largest Union is firmly opposed to this idea. The union is working publicly and privately to undermine San Francisco’s efforts.
Additionally, the union has launched a website called sfprioritycheck.com. The website criticizes the idea of SF forming the state’s 3rd-largest government-owned electric utility.
“Behind the scene, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has spoken to a group of bondholders who are trying to take over Pacific gas and Electric as it rises from bankruptcy protection, ” said Dalzell, the union’s business manager.
A comittee of wildfire victims and the bondholder group are trying to progress their own plan to reorganise pacific gas and electric.
Dalzell continued to say that the union represents workers at both investor-owned and government-run utilities.
“There are great public utilities and there are great investor-owned utilities,” he said. “We don’t favor one or the other. We favor competence.”
However, the union does oppose changes from one form of utility to another. The union’s primary concerns are on potential disruptions to employee pensions.
On the other hand, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers leaders seem to have very little appetite for San Francisco city plans. This could even lead to legal action being taken if the city continues trying to buy Pacific gas and electric electrical equipment.
San Francisco city officials are trying to work with the union. The mayor’s offer letter stressed that the city would recruit Pacific Gas and Electric employees, provide “stable careers with appealing wages and benefits” and honor successor provisions in the company’s collective bargaining agreements.
Supervisor Ronen said she understands the union’s concerns and takes them seriously.
“Although supervisors have approved the offer to Pacific Gas and Electric, that is not the same as actually signing off on a much more detailed plan to take over the utility, ” she said.
Jeff Cretan, the mayor’s spokesman, said the meeting covered “a range of issues, including the city’s offer.”
“Harlan Kelly, the general manager of the city utilities commission, was also present,” Cretan said.
Pacific Gas and Electric has resisted efforts to encroach on its service territory in the Past. After Mayor breed and City Attorney Herrera sent their offer letter, Pacific Gas and Electric said it did not think a government takeover was in the best interest of their customers and stakeholders. However, the company left the door open to future conversation.
A state wildfire law(AB1054) passed in July now makes it more difficult for San Francisco to buy Pacific Gas and Electric equipment. This is because it increases the regulatory insight required for such a deal. However, another bill(SB550), attempts to solve this issue by pushing those regulatory provisions into 2021.