May 9, 2013

Brothers and Sisters, the Texas legislative session is coming down the home stretch. All bills must get out of committee no later than May 2, 2013, if they are to become law. This means we have a few more valuable days to make phone calls to the Senate Business and Commerce Members. We are requesting that the legislators allow a “no charge opt-out” clause in SB 241. Senate Bill 241, introduced by Senator Carona of Dallas, would allow Texans the choice to opt-out of having a smart meter.  Your Union leadership is asking each member to contact members of the Senate Business and Commerce to ask for the “no charge opt-out”. This could save someone’s job. The following are some talking points upon contacting the representatives. First, the deployment was never mandatory; therefore, paying to opt-out of a non-mandatory action is irrational and illogical.  It is a punitive disincentive to choosing what is best for the individual, whether it relates to health concerns, privacy, or security.

Second, the basis for health concerns is widespread.  There are now over 6,000 peer reviewed submissions that have been published showing the potentially harmful effects of exposure to RF radiation from wireless digital transmission at levels far below the thermal activity.  The so-called standards of safety for the often quoted FCC guidelines date back to 1986 and are “not protective of public health” according to the Radio Frequency Interagency Working Group (FDA, OSHA, EPA and FCC).  The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now lists this RF as a possible human carcinogen.  The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has issued warnings about reducing exposure levels of non-thermal RF transmissions in many individual cases and has said, “Adverse health effects from wireless radio frequency fields, such as learning disabilities, altered immune responses and headaches, clearly exist and are well documented in scientific literature.  Safer technology, such as use of hard-wiring, is strongly recommended in schools.”  And finally, in a June 2012 letter, 54 MD’s and PhDs made a compelling case for concern regarding the health risks and effects.  Increasingly, it is only the studies funded by the wireless companies that find the effects relatively benign, much as was the case with cigarettes for many hears.  Yet in the case of cigarettes and with far less data than is available today on RF, no one suggest people should have to pay a fee for NOT smoking.  It is ridiculous for a government to assert people should pay extra to avoid a health hazard with this much evidence behind it.

The following is a list of the contact information for the Senate and Business Commerce Committee:

Senate Business and Commerce Members: 

John Carona  (512) 463-0116   CAP 4E.2,  SD16
Chief of Staff: Barbara Salyers, Legislative Staff: Angie Cervantes, (512) 463-0365     

Larry Taylor   (512) 463-0111   CAP GE.5,   SD11
General Counsel: Colby Beuck

Taylor has sent letter to PUC asking for opt-out provision.

Kevin Eltife  (512) 463-0101    CAP 3E.16,    SD1
Legislative Assistant: Chuck Mains

Eltife favors opt-out as long as participants don’t have to pay extra…Why should opt-outs have to pay for opt-ins?

Craig Estes   (512) 463-0130    CAP 1E.9,      SD30
General Counsel: John Bennett     

Kelly Hancock   (512) 463-0109   CAP GE.7,    SD9
Chief of Staff:  Tricia Stinson  

Eddie Lucio, Jr.   (512) 463-0127   CAP 3S.5,   SD14

Leticia Van de Putte   (512) 463-0126    EXT E1.610,  SD15
Servando Esparza     

Kirk Watson   (512) 463-0114    EXT E1.606,  SD26
General Counsel: Susan Nold  

John Whitmire  (512) 463-0115 CAP 1E.13, SD27
Legislative Aide, Doug Clements -- Whitmire favors opt-out, but concerned that the cost should be ‘socialized’ meaning that opt-outers should pay for it

One more bill that deserves our attention is HB 535, by Rep. Yvonne Davis of Dallas. This bill steps up the purchasing preferences for Texas and American made products when those products can be obtained at the same cost and quality. HB 535 has the potential to create jobs in Texas and in the U.S. HB 535 won the unanimous approval of the House State Affairs Committee and is scheduled for debate on the House floor on Monday May 22, 2013. Contact your Rep. to tell them you are in favor of HB 535.

I have been receiving calls from FSR’s that are being told in their safety meetings that the Company is planning to layoff at least 100 FSR’s this year. On March 26, 2013, the Company and Union had our quarterly meetings. At the Labor Management Meeting, Director Tim Burk was asked how many FSR’s will be needed in the future. Mr. Burk replied that there are approximately 170 FSR’s and theprojected number of FSR’s would be 40 to 60 less than there are currently.

Layoffs – Reemployment is covered in our contract in Article III section 6, on page 14. The Company has not contacted the Union about layoffs of any employees or Effects Bargaining for any employees that would be impacted by a layoff. The Company will contact the Union prior to any layoffs and we have not been contacted regarding any layoffs.

The day after the tragic explosion in West, Texas, I contacted Rodney Deleon (Officer/Steward) in Waco, Texas. Brother Deleon reported that there were no injuries or deaths to any Local 69 members as a result of the explosion. There were two (2) Service men that responded to the call and we have one (1) member that lives in West, Texas.

Please keep the people of West, Texas, and the surrounding communities in your thoughts and prayers. Until next time may God bless you, your family, and our Local Union.

Posted on May 9, 2013 .