I want to start by thanking every member that is doing their part to make the Action Network a success. We’ve had several opportunities lately to take action with the Cheyenne Connector Project, the Northeast Supply Enhancement, Jordan Cove Project, the Line 5 Project, and the Line 3 Project.
Some projects are getting more support than others, so I ask that you take every action available, as they are all vital to our industry. We are making progress here, and we will keep up the fight. I was on a recent conference call with Enbridge, concerning the Line 3 Replacement Project, and representatives for Enbridge flat out said that our advocacy is what is keeping this project alive. Let’s keep up the good work that we are doing to help these projects along. It is a shame that the benefit these projects bring is not enough to justify the need for them to the general public, but this is the world we live in now. This situation isn’t going away anytime soon and may only get worse.
It looks like at least a couple of our projects that are held up right now may end up at the Supreme Court. Who could have ever thought it would come to this? We will continue to follow these projects, and when the time comes, we will advocate through the Action Network. On a brighter note, we currently have right at 400 Local 798 members working in the state of Texas. This is in large part due to our Market Recovery efforts, and we expect that our contractors will be picking up more of this work in the future. The Market Recovery is beginning to bear fruit, and it is nice to get back into these markets. The Cheyenne Connector Project out west has been hung up due to permits for several months now but is going to be a great job that will put several members to work. The Rockford job in Donie, Texas, (19.7 miles of 42”) was also picked up by utilizing the Market Recovery rates. The UA members on that job have shown Energy Transfer that union labor is still the best value, no matter what part of the country that the work is in. This work is ours, and we will not sit by and see the nonunion take our share. We have been meeting with the other crafts and PLCA representatives regularly, and I believe we are all on board to get this work. It takes us all working together. It seems that a few of the gas companies utilize us and recognize our worth when the projects are in areas of the country where they need our advocacy, but they tend to forget those relationships when the work is down south or out west. The time is coming that they will need us to advocate for their projects in Texas, just as much as they need us in other parts of the country.
We’ve got a Board of Trustees meeting coming up in early September, and we will potentially be looking at making pension improvements once again. I want to take this time to remind our retirees that there will be no 13th check issued for 2019. This was decided last year by the Board of Trustees. The legal counsel to the Funds advised the Trustees that we needed to skip a year on giving a 13th check, to avoid being locked into making this a permanent benefit going forward. There are many legalities surrounding pension plans, and certain benefits, if made too many times consecutively, can become a permanent benefit. As Trustees, we would never want to be in a situation where we were forced to give pension improvements, even when it could jeopardize the funding percentage. What we did last year was to give a one-time payment of 260% of retirees’ monthly pension amount, along with a percentage increase. In other words, last year we more than doubled the 13th check, so the retirees would still get the benefit, and at the same time, we were able to protect the Fund from mandatory increases in the future. I just wanted to be clear that there will not be a 13th check this year, but we will likely be considering a percentage increase for retirees and accrual increases for active members. As Trustees, we’ve agreed only to give pension raises when the funding percentage is over 110%. We feel like this is the right approach, and fortunately, this has allowed our pension fund to be among the healthiest in any industry.
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.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters, I hope everyone had a great holiday season and a Merry Christmas. As seasons go, to me, winter is a time for reflection and a time to prepare for the upcoming spring and summer.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I hope that each one of you was able to spend some time with your families and enjoy the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
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