Blog Comments

  1. Markprev's Avatar
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    What I found training new employees is try to have patience and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe since you were off, they felt like they couldn't contact you with questions, I don't know. New employees are tough, but don't be too harsh on them.
  2. ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Peter Principle, an employee is promoted to their level of incompetence.


    I have had a couple of people like you describe. One worked out fairly well after months of extra effort. The rest just ha to go.

    The wrong area marked does show they made the effort and did not blow off the ticket. This locator will need a lot of extra effort and it may take and it may not. This is a peron with less than average ability but is at least trying to get the work done.
  3. Mke's Avatar
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    I see where you are going with that, but realistically, he is not going to dig that deep. And most of all is the fact that I don't want to encourage the pissing contest in front of the other individuals.

    If it was just him and I, it would of been a different situation. One where I would of told him to go F@&$ himself.
  4. daman1's Avatar
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    Why can't you ask him to prove it? If he digs down and proves you right, you can then decide if you wanna whip out the aforementioned appendage and show him what else he's lacking. Or would that be going too far?
  5. daman1's Avatar
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    I think this guy padded his resume and oversold himself. Hiring the right person is always a crap shoot. The one who seems so sure of himself is often overcompensating while the humble ones who don't want to brag seem unmotivated. It's hard to tell the difference until they are actually expected to perform.
  6. jayc's Avatar
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    Are they even taught to "Dot out, stripe back"? I know it's basic, but one should learn to crawl before they walk.....Right?
    I'm not even a locator and I know that.
  7. jayc's Avatar
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    I don't think I'll be able to do the job for the $9.00 I'll have left after your consulting fee.
  8. daman1's Avatar
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    Therya go JayC just bid 10million and 9 dollars. I'll help for a hefty consulting and site prep fee.
  9. jayc's Avatar
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    Send me a PM and let me know where they post the bids, so I'll be sure to look.
  10. Mke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayc
    So here's what you do...have your place hire me for your next job. If I'm on the job and something gets hit, it's just proof that these contractors are working to the best of their ability and not taking shortcuts. If nothing gets hit, then you know who to call for the next job.

    Sounds like a plan, except one thing...

    Public agencies go with the lowest bidders.... So we already know we get crappy contractors.

    At least with the bigger jobs (10 mill and up) we have minimum bid requirements.... That usually excludes a lot of the crappy contractors.
  11. jayc's Avatar
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    So here's what you do...have your place hire me for your next job. If I'm on the job and something gets hit, it's just proof that these contractors are working to the best of their ability and not taking shortcuts. If nothing gets hit, then you know who to call for the next job.
  12. Mke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superman
    Mke, I'm very sorry to here that about your boy. We have a 7 year old nephew with the same condition.

    Now, as far as the IBEW. I was still kinda new in the locating industry when I became unionized. I remember signing an interest card, but I was not a part of the negotiations so I didn't know what was happening until it was already done. This was in the early 2000's. I do remember that I went from $12.00/hr straight to $14.75/hr. That right there itself more than paid for my dues. After 54 months (4 1/2 yrs) I went to $16.50/hr which was top pay. We had certified levels of locator's, new hire, level 1, 2 and 3 with 3 being the highest level. Our supervisor had to take us out and make us take an actual locating test on the utilities that we marked for. If we didn't pass, then we didn't move up to the next level which meant we didn't get a pay raise either. I remember that level 3 had to know pretty much everything about locating, how to induce, how to locate 6 primaries coming out of a switchgear, when to do this, when to do that, etc. I think if we had this sort of standard set up right now, we would not have such a large turnover ratio. It would give all the newbies something to pursue and be challenged by. Something to set a goal for so to speak. Right now, newbies have nothing to shoot for. The company tells them if they do this and that, then they will get such and such raise after so much time put in. Then they do what they should do, and then don't get what the company promised them.

    We also got 8 hrs plus 1/2 for anything after 8, double time on holidays. We got a $100 clothing allowance every year. We did not get the extra day's off that AA was talking about which I think that would only hurt us anyways. We always have that double day of tickets.

    Management could not take any hours away from you, ie doing emergencies for you. If there was no work the next day, then they had to inform you by 9:00 p.m. the night before or you would be paid for 2 hours. We got a minimum of 2 hours for any call out. On-call pay went from $35 to $50.

    It all came to an end when my little company of about 300 locators was bought out by SM&P in 2006. That little company was only in 1 full state and about 1/4 of another state so the Local IBEW was able to cover the whole locating company. That's something that could not happen with a company as large as USIC.

    I was fortunate to move over to SM&P, but the union could not come with me. I could have continued to pay my dues to stay in that particular union, but why, I had lost all my perks. I'm sure there are other perks that I'm forgetting about, it's been almost 10 years ago.

    Thanks,

    Sup...
    Kal-el,

    I couldn't of asked for a better kid. He's a hoot. As you and your family have probably noticed. The disability is an eye opener, but you love'em just the same.

    As for the state of the industry. Here are some road blocks that we face in the idea of unionizing and no one addresses these.

    1) There will be no unity from the compition. If one company loses the contract, the next company will step right on in without the union.

    2) Being represented by an Electrical union is fine, but we don't just locate Electrical. Again, we are just shoe horned in temporarily.

    3) If our wages inflate enough to be even close to the lowest rung in the union, our jobs will be pulled "in-house" and performed by licensed electricians or pipe fitters or who ever is working on the utility that we are supposed to locate.

    4) Unskilled labor doesn't last in a skilled union. Even though they will make up "tests" to meet the criteria the union has placed on all positions. It is not a true certification.



    I agree with Steve on the plan of action. The biggest thing we can do is try to amend the state One-call laws to state, "Certified Utility Locator" in reference to who is allowed to mark underground facilities.

    Just that act alone will put the state on its heels looking for a way to certify all the locators out there. Hopefully we can insert ourselves into a position to help guide our industry at that time.

    mke
  13. TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Superman... You want my solution? Work to get Federal and State guidelines for Utility Locators. Standardized training and certification. Doing that alone will make the utility locator a commodity instead of an easily replaced monkey. You will become a sought after skilled tradesman. The local locate company hires out of the newspaper/craigslist/etc... has a 2 week class for THREE utilities and then lets them go into the field. If that company can acquire employees so easily then the demand for experienced employees is very low. It is a simple supply and demand issue. All American wants a $5.50 increase in pay. That alone will kill the contract. That would be like me opening a burger joint and hiring my staff at $18.00 an hour. I couldn't do it because the hamburgers would be double the price of my competitor down the street.

    The truth is you and I are unskilled labor. You can fight for unions all you want but as soon as you become unionized the contract will be gone. NO CONTRACT NO JOB. Thanks union. Maybe you can protest in front of the company that now has your contract and call them scabs and union busters. Truth is YOU took the money out of your own kids mouths by demanding something from the market that the market can't provide.

    Certification is the first solution. 2nd solution? Find another job that pays better. I'm not trying to be harsh but that is the facts as I see them. Until licensing or certification comes along that makes it harder to become a locator (thus fewer locators = higher demand) you will always be earning in the low end of the pay scale.
    Updated November 25th, 2014 at 09:27 PM by TheCableVine
  14. superman's Avatar
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    Mke, I'm very sorry to here that about your boy. We have a 7 year old nephew with the same condition.

    Now, as far as the IBEW. I was still kinda new in the locating industry when I became unionized. I remember signing an interest card, but I was not a part of the negotiations so I didn't know what was happening until it was already done. This was in the early 2000's. I do remember that I went from $12.00/hr straight to $14.75/hr. That right there itself more than paid for my dues. After 54 months (4 1/2 yrs) I went to $16.50/hr which was top pay. We had certified levels of locator's, new hire, level 1, 2 and 3 with 3 being the highest level. Our supervisor had to take us out and make us take an actual locating test on the utilities that we marked for. If we didn't pass, then we didn't move up to the next level which meant we didn't get a pay raise either. I remember that level 3 had to know pretty much everything about locating, how to induce, how to locate 6 primaries coming out of a switchgear, when to do this, when to do that, etc. I think if we had this sort of standard set up right now, we would not have such a large turnover ratio. It would give all the newbies something to pursue and be challenged by. Something to set a goal for so to speak. Right now, newbies have nothing to shoot for. The company tells them if they do this and that, then they will get such and such raise after so much time put in. Then they do what they should do, and then don't get what the company promised them.

    We also got 8 hrs plus 1/2 for anything after 8, double time on holidays. We got a $100 clothing allowance every year. We did not get the extra day's off that AA was talking about which I think that would only hurt us anyways. We always have that double day of tickets.

    Management could not take any hours away from you, ie doing emergencies for you. If there was no work the next day, then they had to inform you by 9:00 p.m. the night before or you would be paid for 2 hours. We got a minimum of 2 hours for any call out. On-call pay went from $35 to $50.

    It all came to an end when my little company of about 300 locators was bought out by SM&P in 2006. That little company was only in 1 full state and about 1/4 of another state so the Local IBEW was able to cover the whole locating company. That's something that could not happen with a company as large as USIC.

    I was fortunate to move over to SM&P, but the union could not come with me. I could have continued to pay my dues to stay in that particular union, but why, I had lost all my perks. I'm sure there are other perks that I'm forgetting about, it's been almost 10 years ago.

    Thanks,

    Sup...


    Quote Originally Posted by Mke
    Ok Sup. You have contacted me, and I haven't been too involved. To my defense, I'm still a locator and spray paint more then I type. I also have a new employee who's underperforming. To top it all off, I have a 11 year old autistic boy who is home schooled. My Dance card is full.

    Most of what I can try to do is locally with the Local MUCC. Communicate and educate. That's my main objective. I know it doesn't help you too much, but we have to do changes locally. I carry no weight anywhere else, hell, I barely carry any weight here.

    You, with your previous experience with the IBEW should be able to tell us what exactly happens when they cover locators. How long were you a member? How did it end? Did they try to help the locators in the end?

    mke
    Updated November 25th, 2014 at 06:32 AM by superman
  15. Mke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superman
    Mke, I have voiced my interest in your logic in several post. I believe I have even sent you my personal phone # so we could talk more about what your proposing. I have even sent you private messages asking about your logic. Your way sounds great, but the problem is that nobody seems to want to go that route.

    AA mentioned creating our own union, which is what I thought you were interested in, but you shot him down. I will listen to whatever you or anybody else has to say about our situation. I may not agree with everything, but we got to start somewhere right? To tell you the truth Mke, I think I'm more interested in what you are proposing, but you have even stated that it would take way too long to get initiated.

    Getting into a local IBEW would be the easiest, quickest, most logical way to solve some of the issues at hand right now. I have been in the IBEW as a locator and as I have stated before, it was great. Would not have changed anything.

    As for what you have stated that "the union can't make promises", yes you are correct. But at the same time your locating company will make broken promises. Mine has. The union will put their/your promises in writing with a contract. Your locating company puts nothing in writing except their rules and regulations, not yours. You also say that the union will only bargain on the locators behalf to get better benefits. HELLO..., that's the whole point here.

    As I have stated before, whatever works to better our profession, hey I'm all for it. My only logic is that I know what the IBEW did for me and it could again real quickly if we so desire. The other way would take so long that it would seem like a losing battle.

    Thanks,

    Kal-El
    Ok Sup. You have contacted me, and I haven't been too involved. To my defense, I'm still a locator and spray paint more then I type. I also have a new employee who's underperforming. To top it all off, I have a 11 year old autistic boy who is home schooled. My Dance card is full.

    Most of what I can try to do is locally with the Local MUCC. Communicate and educate. That's my main objective. I know it doesn't help you too much, but we have to do changes locally. I carry no weight anywhere else, hell, I barely carry any weight here.

    You, with your previous experience with the IBEW should be able to tell us what exactly happens when they cover locators. How long were you a member? How did it end? Did they try to help the locators in the end?

    mke
  16. Mke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superman
    Should we keep it the way it is now and continue to get sqrewed by the company so they can keep their contract? What are we supposed to do Steve, keep taking it up the arse? What is your answer to the problems? The customer will not give the contract away around here anyways because the locating company already has all of the customers around, which means they are already doing it for peanuts. The locating company would simply have to raise the rate up from peanuts to pennies on the dollar if we were to go union. That's something that the competitors can not compete with unless they were to take all the contracts. What's the chances of that?
    Sup, We honestly know how you feel. Even though we are in different positions now, if you are a locator, you have been in this situation from one time to another. I wish people woudn't liken my position as being against the lcoators getting better benefits. My position is strictly with the locator not getting "F"ed. I couldn't risk losing my paycheck and I don't other locators should have to risk losing theirs either. You can say, "You can't get fired for unionizing". You are correct, but since our industry is based on yearly contracts with automatic renewals, it wouldn't take much to lose a contract if the work force decided to change the playing field.

    I believe it would be easier to get certified than unionized. I believe that the ends would be more secure as well.

    The only thing that AA said which is true is that the industry needs to be together. The horrible part is that the industry is cut-throat and companies will not willingly work together for any reason.

    mke
  17. superman's Avatar
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    Mke, I have voiced my interest in your logic in several post. I believe I have even sent you my personal phone # so we could talk more about what your proposing. I have even sent you private messages asking about your logic. Your way sounds great, but the problem is that nobody seems to want to go that route.

    AA mentioned creating our own union, which is what I thought you were interested in, but you shot him down. I will listen to whatever you or anybody else has to say about our situation. I may not agree with everything, but we got to start somewhere right? To tell you the truth Mke, I think I'm more interested in what you are proposing, but you have even stated that it would take way too long to get initiated.

    Getting into a local IBEW would be the easiest, quickest, most logical way to solve some of the issues at hand right now. I have been in the IBEW as a locator and as I have stated before, it was great. Would not have changed anything.

    As for what you have stated that "the union can't make promises", yes you are correct. But at the same time your locating company will make broken promises. Mine has. The union will put their/your promises in writing with a contract. Your locating company puts nothing in writing except their rules and regulations, not yours. You also say that the union will only bargain on the locators behalf to get better benefits. HELLO..., that's the whole point here.

    As I have stated before, whatever works to better our profession, hey I'm all for it. My only logic is that I know what the IBEW did for me and it could again real quickly if we so desire. The other way would take so long that it would seem like a losing battle.

    Thanks,

    Kal-El
    Updated November 22nd, 2014 at 10:24 PM by superman
  18. superman's Avatar
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    Should we keep it the way it is now and continue to get sqrewed by the company so they can keep their contract? What are we supposed to do Steve, keep taking it up the arse? What is your answer to the problems? The customer will not give the contract away around here anyways because the locating company already has all of the customers around, which means they are already doing it for peanuts. The locating company would simply have to raise the rate up from peanuts to pennies on the dollar if we were to go union. That's something that the competitors can not compete with unless they were to take all the contracts. What's the chances of that?
    Updated November 22nd, 2014 at 05:32 PM by superman
  19. TheCableVine's Avatar
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    There is only one thing to know about unions and locating. Unions = higher cost to operate. Higher cost is passed on to the customer. Customer wants lower cost so they drop the union locating company and give the contract to a non-union company.

    It really is as simple as that. You can unionize all you want but it will be short lived and the union will leave you stranded with no job after taking your union dues. Union wins. Locator loses.
  20. Mke's Avatar
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    AA, Thank you for adding name calling to the discussion. I'm sorry you were not able to add anything else besides more talking points as per the Union borchure.

    Please at any time, include personal opinions and personal observations that could help further this discussion.

    As for your multiple posts, Starting from the bottom working to the top. Kal-el did a great job posting all the same bullet points that you so graciously re-stated and added to.

    Unfortunately, neither you or Kal-el have actually addy anything besides these bullet points. You guys have not addressed the simple fact that their is not a "Brotherhood of Union Locators" so what will end up happening would be an existing union will try to pull the industry into an existing union. I have constantly stated my concerns with this and no one.... not you, not sup, not the random union rep that logs in to "feel our strife" replys or even attempts to answer any concerns i, and others have listed.

    In the rhetoric you have listed, I have seen nothing but vauge plans that are always based on the bargining of the contract. The emphasis is always put on what "Could" be gained and nothing put on what could be lossed.

    As alot of locators in the midwest have personally seen, if a contract locating company loses a contract they are out of a job. The likely event of this is extremely high considering how the industry is set up.

    The only thing you said which I agree with is, "UNITY IN MASS IS KEY". Unfortunately, you mean this to support the union. We, as an industry should not support the union which is not designed specifically for our industry. We need to unite to support the Locators. The only way to improve conditions is to put value back into what we do.

    You can preach your rhetoric as much as you want on this blog, but please try to pepper in some personal experience with it. I have sat down with local union reps who have attempted to unionize the local troops. He spoke the same talking points. When it comes down to it, they can not promise anything. They will only state that they will bargin on our behalf to get better bennifits. They don't guarantee to get them, they just guarantee to bargin on your behalf.

    With no guarantees you have to rely on your own interpretation of the facts. This is exactly where I am, still waiting for Superman's and your responses.

    As for your initial post and concern about my "Holiday" comment. Let me give you a bit of background on myself. I have been in the utility field since 2000. Most of which has been as a utility locator. I had one year as a MeterReader. My Locating career has been predominately in the Private side of things, I however, started as a public locator locating 3 counties and 5 utilities.

    I currently have been "On-call" 24/7/365 since my hire date with the new company back in 07. I have only reliquished the on-call status when I flew to Orlando on vacation (which I still answered work related calls). I have not only worked multiple holidays, weekends, nights, you name it, but I also have had to pull double shifts on those said days as well depending on the circumstances.

    As for managers, I have been threatened to be sued by my employer for applying for a different job. I had to pay over 5k in lawyers fee's just to work through the bullshit letters sent to me by my employer. I can go into a shit load more detail if you like, but will save you the long dissertation.

    I will cut to the point for you. I have been shit on like all locators. Multiple times, with multiple flavors. I continually get shit upon till this day. I still work just as hard because it is my job. What I try to do now is to educate people who are not locators to inform them why the industry sucks, while still trying to maintain the importance of locating and not bashing other locators.

    As locators, we need to persue a path to benefit locating. Not just a bandaid.
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