PDL HIstory  
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History of PDL

Prior to 1981 a group of Bonneville Power Administration engineers had formed an organization known as the Professional Engineers in Government. This organization was not a collective bargaining unit but did what was possible to assist engineering employees at the BPA. 

In the late 1970’s, Jim Bixby, a union organizer for the Laborers’ International Union, began work with some BPA engineers to unionize BPA as to its professional workers. Unionization came to a vote amongst all of BPA’s professional workers. By an overwhelming vote (as I recall, over 2/3 voting in favor) the professionals proclaimed that they wanted to unionize. By the routine official procedure, it was ruled that Local 335 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (located in Vancouver, Washington) was to be the formal collective bargaining agent for a "unit" of BPA professional employees. This local, therefore, and no one else can, and must, represent BPA’s non-exempt professionals. 

The first collective bargaining agreement was negotiated by Jim Bixby, as spokesman, and a team of Dick Coila, Mike Schnell, Rod Peterson, John Polos, Pam Odam, and Bob Jones. Peter Johnson, BPA Administrator, signed the contract, on March 25, 1983. The single most important matter covered by that original contract was a complete grievance process. This allowed professionals who had suffered adverse actions to have union help in grieving their complaint. The grievance process has been improved out of experiences and still remains available to employees. 

Lloyd Flood, Union Business Agent, along with Rod Peterson, Bob Jones, Mike Schnell, Charlie Feris, and John Polos, negotiated the next contract. Peter Johnson again signed as Administrator on June 30, 1986. Jack Robertson signed as Acting Administrator on the next agreement of May 31, 1991. Lloyd Flood was again the Union Business Agent. Mike Schnell, John Polos, Charlie Feris, and Bob Jones were again on the union negotiating team, as was our unit’s new President, Mike Storms of Spokane. Mike had been elected at our first general union meeting and served as president of our Professional Division until he retired at the end of February 1999. 

Administrator Randall (Randy) Hardy signed our February 21, 1995 collective bargaining agreement. Dave Letinich was then our Union Business Agent and remains in that position today. Dave has been a stalwart and intelligent supporter of our unit and is greatly appreciated by those of us who have worked with him. The 1995 union negotiating team consisted of Dave Letinich, Bob Jones, Ron Thorkildson, Bob Hale, Margaret Lambie Hennel, and Mike Storms. 

Our most recent agreement, dated February 18, 1999, was negotiated by Dave Letinich, Bob Jones, Mike Storms, and new team members Ton Pansky, Judy Schoenberg, and Pat Donaly. Much of the negotiations dealt with refinements, proven by nasty experiences to be necessary. However, some new items were added, including: the right to negotiate negotiable subjects if the Administrative Efficiencies Project is passed by Congress within two years; the right to negotiate during the term of the contract as to personnel practices or policies or working conditions which management wants to change; the right to discuss employee moves; the union is to have a site on the World Wide Web of the Internet to aid in communication with members; management is to interpret rules, regulations, and statutes in a fair and reasonable manner (management refused to agree with this for the preceding contract); notice before changes in duty station are ordered; provisions helpful to travelling employees for returning home on weekends; when management messes up travel arrangements, management will usually have to pay to get things straightened out; amelioration as to changes in workday and workweek and as to credit hours; less rigid permission to use annual leave and a supervisory responsibility to help in the use of use-or-lose leave; provisions aiding in the administration of annual leave for religious purposes, sick leave, leave without pay, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Family Friendly Leave Act; notice and discussions as to proposed Reductions in Force (RIF); consultations in some situations of modifications of duties or of classification programs; several provisions facilitating training and development of professionals; management restraint in the assignment of unwanted overtime; increases in the amounts reimbursed for membership in professional associations; minimum open periods for vacancy announcements; a new requirement to advertise internally at grades as low as externally; use of official time and reimbursement for some types of educational classes; and a re-affirmation of the obligation of management to develop and implement a technical career path program. 

At a general union meeting in January 1999, Tom Pansky (Energy Resource Specialist, Environment, Fish and Wildlife Group) was elected President of our unit, to replace retiring Mike Storms. A run-off election gave the new post of Vice-President to Judy Schoenberg (Electronics Engineer, Covington Substation). Tom is now working towards the appointment of shop stewards to assist our chief steward, Bob Jones (Senior Attorney-Advisor, Office of General Counsel). 

Our union has also participated from the beginning (August 1994) in the Partnership Council.  This is a committee of equal numbers of management officials and union representatives. It meets regularly and considers general BPA policies, giving its recommendations to the Administrator. Mike Storms served this function for our union until his retirement. Tim Patrick, Mike’s alternate for many years, has now taken over Mike’s position. Bob Hale was Bob Jones’ alternate from the beginning until he retired in 1998. Tom Pansky now fills our second alternate position. 

Our special thanks to the author of this history of our Professional Division of Laborers (PDL), Bob Jones - March 1999.

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