A Warm Holiday Meal Brought by Your Gas Workers

gas workersAs President of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) I have seen first-hand how corporate greed has destroyed our economy and middle class jobs in America. I have also seen how corporate domination of our political system both helped to support corporate greed and is now powerless in the face of that greed.

Sempra Energy/SoCal Gas, is part of the problem. The energy giant symbolizes the corporate power and greed people across the nation are questioning. We, the workers at Sempra, are conversely a symbol of the other 99% of the population is now fighting back.

As gas utility workers we provide a valuable public service. We make sure our homes have safe and efficient natural gas to keep our homes warm, have hot running water and with safe gas stoves and ovens. Many of us may take this for granted as we warm our homes and cook our meals this holiday season.

For our work we have done well, especially considering our current recession. Too well, says the bosses at Sempra Energy. The 5,000 members of my Union and our sister Union the International Chemical Workers Union (ICWU) have been working without a contract since October 15th of this year. While other gas workers across California have settled fair contracts Sempra (So Cal Gas’s parent company) continues to insist on below standard wage increases and cuts to our retirement and medical.

It is an outrage that at a time of remarkable corporate profits Sempra would insist on takeaways from those of us who do the work. Sempra has reported close to $4 billion in profits since 2008. The top five executives at Sempra have paid themselves $91 million during this time.

Sempra has made these profits, in part, at the expense of customers. Sempra has expanded part time work, increased our workloads and relaxed response times to service calls. As a result, gas customers wait longer for inspections, leak reports, and appliance lighting. This even as the State has put greater scrutiny on gas service since the deadly San Bruno explosion of 2010.

As a public-private partnership Sempra has an obligation to treat its customers and workers fairly. Instead they make billions, pay themselves millions while cutting services to customers. But the workers are fighting back and we will protect our jobs and not let Sempra hold us back.

We are standing up to Sempra not just for our families, but also for gas customers and as an example to workers everywhere. If at a time of great corporate profits we can’t maintain our standards of living, or even get ahead, then when can we?

It is time for the 99% to hold the 1% accountable at work. What better way to start? Thus on behalf of the 5,000 hard working professionals that delver the natural gas to warm your home and light your stove for your holiday meal we say, ‘Happy Holidays’ and ask for your support in our fight against corporate greed and for good jobs and stellar public service.

Art Frias
President, Utility Workers Union of America Local 132.

Comments

  1. As a represented member of SoCal Gas, I can tell you that we are treated VERY fairly. Where else can a person with only a GED make $31 an hour to answer the phone? We also have a very competitive benefits package. What you see here is greed, pure and simple. This is a group of people who think that company profits absolutely MUST equal increased wages and benefits. Sure, the folks who run the company make a lot of money. They also have a HUGE amount of responsibility, and they must answer directly to the stockholders for their decisions. Pay commensurate with responsibility is a foreign concept to these union thugs. If I had a choice I wouldn’t belong to a union, but we don’t have a choice. Being a union member is a condition of employment. These idiots steal money from me every paycheck so they can take actions that are against my will. I thought this was America, where freedom of choice reigns. Forced union membership is not freedom of choice. The union will tell you that a majority of the membership voted for these actions. What they won’t tell you is that it was a majority of THOSE THAT SHOWED UP. It was clearly not a majority of the entire membership. Of course, the people most likely to show up to one of their dog & pony shows are the hardcore union members. The people who work themselves into a frenzy, convicing each other that they are poor, abused workers. We are neither. Most of us own our own homes, we drive nice cars, we are able to pay our bills, we take vacations, we own company stock. All because of the pay and benefits we receive from Sempra.

    • Callcenterchick says:

      I am also a call center employee of The Gas Co, and yes you may only need a high school education for this job. However, this does not give them the right to treat us like 2nd class citizens. I mean really, the “new” and “great” phone system we use is crap! Did you know that work related injuries in the call center went up by 400% after it was installed? And what does the co do? Fight us on every single thing! They don’t want to admit and take responsibility for the pain they are causing their workers! And as for those vacations you take, the nice car you drive, and the bills that are paid…who helped make that possible? THE UNION!!! That’s who! They negotiated our pay and benefits. Do you think it was out of the kindness of the co’s hearts! Please! Give me a break! If it were up to them, we’d have no benefits, and be at minimum wage! I’m sure you love the benefits and pay, so instead of calling your Union brothers and sisters “thugs” why not thank them instead? Otherwise, go work for Edison if you think it’s better without a Union in the call center!

    • Gas Hombre says:

      if by stating all you need is a ged to work at Sempra and make 31 dollars an hour you were referring to yourself i highly suggest you continue your education i don’t know how many years of service you have but it doesn’t sound like very many if it weren’t for those that came before you and paved the way you’d probably be making a 1/3 of what you make and still living at home no matter that you despise us and find our existence reprehensible you need us up on that wall maybe you’re the one exception that does exactly as you’re told and things always work out for you but if for some ungodly reason you’re called on the carpet because a sup is having a bad day remember who’ll have your back be careful of what you wish for…

    • Lola Bernal says:

      SEMPRA Has made $4B since 2008. I don’t care if you need an elementary education that fact is the workers do the work. What to do the execs who paid themselves $91M do? Cut jobs, hours and try to make folks part time? THat is their skill. YOu only need to be able to mark an “X” to do that. Workers at Gas co should fight for a good wage, period.

      As CHris Rock said, “you can’t take credit for doing what your suppose to do.” COmpanies should treat workers fairly, that is a given. Share the wealth too!

  2. Juan Sanchez says:

    Hey man good story. My old man was a gas worker and he put in his time, did good work and is now retired and has a good retirement. He hurt his leg working for the company and now he has big time leg issues. IF he didn’t have a good retirement plan he’d be screwed.

  3. Jason Wilson says:

    Sempra is the type of 1% we need to all fight! They don’t even produce anything, just charge us while these guys to the work!

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