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Blue Light Report - July / August 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Like many of you, I am also disappointed in the many projects that have been stalled or delayed. All the more reason we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to advocate. Sadly, only about 50% of our members are actively engaged on our Action Network.

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Blue Light Report 2 - July / August 2019

Brothers and Sisters,

I hope this report finds each of you healthy and in good spirits. This year has obviously started out much slower than the last two. Through the month of May, we are well behind 2017 and 2018 man-hours, but we are still ahead of 2015 and 2016, which ended up being 6.8 million and 7.5 million man-hour years.

The delays and postponements of several of our larger projects have definitely reshaped what we thought might be the biggest year we’ve ever had. The good news is, we are starting to see a lot of job notifications roll in. These are mostly small and mid-sized projects that aren’t as out front and in the news like the ACP, Keystone XL, and the Line 3 Replacement. These types of jobs don’t typically see the permit issues and protests that the larger scale projects do, which is a good thing for us. Also, the Mountain Valley Pipeline spreads are getting manned up, with much more work there to be done.

We are also starting to pick up some work in Texas and out in the western states. We must get our presence back in these areas, and to do that, we’ve put together a reduced wage package to try to be able to compete in these markets. Keep in mind that if you have a chance to work on these jobs, at less than high scale wages, you can work up to 600 hours before losing your spot on the Out-of-Work List. Recently, with 1,800 Helpers on the Out-of-Work List, a Helper job went unfilled in North Dakota. This particular job’s wage rate was at 90% of high scale and projected to last five weeks. I hear from members from time to time that say, “we sold too many books the last couple of years.” When jobs go unfilled, we still have an obligation to man the work. We have no choice in this matter. The last thing we’d ever want to do is sell books to more people than the work can sustain. That is exactly why we don’t just sell books, and instead, the only way to gain membership to Local 798 is when a job goes unfilled by current members.  At that point, we may send a non-member out to man the work.  It’s then up to that person to decide if they want to become a member.  Some do, and some decide after that one job that this type of work is not for them, they never follow through and do not end up becoming a Local 798 member.  As we all know, the work outlook can change in an instant.  With the work starting out slower this year, it is totally understandable to choose wisely on what jobs you apply for.  I just wanted to point out that you may be able to work a shorter job, keep your spot on the Out-of-Work List, and no books would need to be sold.  

If you are a Local 798 member working for a non-signatory pipeline contractor, there’s a good chance you are going to be caught.  Once you are, you will go before the Executive Board and face expulsion from Local 798. If you think you won’t be caught, think again. The non-union guys you are working with are all too willing to call and report you. I get these calls from time to time, and we always follow up. It turns out that the non-union Welders do not like that a Local 798 member, who gets the higher wages, pension, healthcare, and 401(k), wants to come and take their work between good union jobs. I’ve talked to several of these non-union Welders lately, and they feel like you are stealing from them and from Local 798, and I tend to agree.  If you want to work for non-signatory contractors, do the right thing and send in your book along with a letter of resignation. 

Building Trades work has been plentiful lately, with some long projects that are paying a good wage and fringe package.  It’s not pipeline work, but you can keep the cash flow going while extending your insurance coverage and building on pension credits.  Contact the Local 798 Dispatch Office for assistance with this. One thing to remember when working out of a Building Trades local, is that while they do reciprocate your benefits to PIBF, they are not as timely as when you are working under the National Pipeline Agreement. It is generally around two months from the time you start working before benefits show up at PIBF. You can make a call to PIBF anytime to check the status of this. 

FERC recently released a favorable environmental assessment review of the Buckeye XPress Project. This is great news, but there is always the possible need to put up future actions to keep this project going in the right direction. This job will consist of approximately 64 miles of 36” for TransCanada’s Columbia Gas System that will put many of our members to work. Thank you to all who advocated for this project by signing the petition. This is what it takes to secure these projects. Nobody advocates better than Local 798 members and their family of supporters. This is the kind of thing that separates us from the unorganized. Thanks again. 

If there is ever anything that I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to call on me.  As always, I am proud to serve the membership of Pipeliners Local Union 798.

Fraternally,

Justin Wallace

Financial Secretary-Treasurer

MORE 798 STORIES

  • Blue Light Report - July / August 2019
    Dear Brothers and Sisters, Like many of you, I am also disappointed in the many projects that have been stalled or delayed. All the more reason we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to advocate. Sadly, only about 50% of our members are actively engaged on our Action Network.
  • Blue Light Report 2 - July / August 2019
    Brothers and Sisters, I hope this report finds each of you healthy and in good spirits. This year has obviously started out much slower than the last two. Through the month of May, we are well behind 2017 and 2018 man-hours, but we are still ahead of 2015 and 2016, which ended up being 6.8 million and 7.5 million man-hour years.
  • Blue Light Report Dispatch - July / August 2019
    The pipeline hours are slower than in 2017 and 2018, but we are still ahead of 2015 and 2016, so work is not quite as slow as it may seem. We are not having a record year as we have had previously (that goal is unreasonable), but work is picking up.  We have already needed to PPC-11 a nonbook to an Intermediate job in the Dakotas.
  • Blue Light Report Benefits Update - July / August 2019
    401(k) Distributions We are currently experiencing an unusually high volume of 401(k) calls and distribution applications. Please know that messages received by the Fund office will be returned and we are working to process the distribution applications in a timely manner.