Are Utility Company Unions Still Powerful?
By Tina Samuels
Since the 1970s labor unions have been in a steep decline.
Public unions have been at about the same density since 1985 (around 35 percent), though privately-owned corporations are far less likely to be unionized. At a little more than 6.0 percent density, the privately-owned sector can be said to have virtually no unions to “have the backs” of workers.
During the 2008 presidential elections, unions donated funds to help President Obama become elected. Over time, many of the bills proposed to help unions stay organized and help workers never made it to the voting floor.
Since then, many of the unions that donated to Obama's campaign have faded away.
Wages of many union workers are far less than in previous years, a shocking 11 percent of total wage pool of all working Americans.
While deregulation of electrical suppliers have helped Americans find different sources of electricity, it has also created a problem for workers.
Those companies that had existing unions or are owned by public companies still have unions. These unions are all tentatively connected or at least associated. Members must pay dues (as with any union) and are represented by union leaders. Rates of pay or cost of living adjustments (COLA) have decreased over the years.
Electrical unions are more prevalent in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, though there are some unions in other regions. California has unions for electrical workers and so does Georgia.
In the Northern states the unions are more powerful with companies as they have been established longer and people are less likely to accept the “employer knows best” attitude.
Some political movements have been chipping away at unions around the nation for years, including electrical unions.
Opponents of unionized workers point to higher costs, lack of corporation viability in a competitive market, and less choice of employees as reasons to avoid or dissolve unions.
Some backers of this school of thought will threaten to fire employees that speak of forming unions. This is technically illegal, though the practice exists and will probably persist.
In 2012, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, some politicians used unions as a way to push the point of 'union thugs' to media consumers.
Groups of non-union electrical employees from Southern states were supposedly turned away from areas in New Jersey affected by Hurricane Sandy by union workers. This was proven to be a false accusation, but due to the media coverage and recording manipulation the damage was done. Many in the public believed electrical unions cared more about their pockets than their customers without power.
Unions are losing power, not just in utility companies, but all across the country.
As a result, no one can be 100 percent sure what the future holds for unions or American workers, including those in the utility industry.
About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on David Kiger and other small business personalities.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.