Chugach Consumers

Background documents assembled by Chugach Consumers

One of the worst examples of deliberate inefficiencies promoted and sustained by IBEW Union Local 1547 is its currently successful effort to prevent use of the safe and modern practice of rubber gloving, which is nothing more than using insulated gloves when handling live "hot" wires.  

ISSUE - End Alaska Department of Labor ban on a modern work practice (Rubber Gloves)

The use of insulated gloves to handle live "hot" wires in connection with electrical and telecommunications work is a common work practice in 47 states, Canada and the rest of the world. Experts in the field (including the Safety Director of the IBEW Union International Office) were on the panel that drafted the Federal Regulations governing workplace safety that specifically authorize its use. In many situations, employees can perform their work more safely using insulated gloves instead of tools equipped with insulated handles.

In Alaska the IBEW Union has opposed use of rubber gloves claiming they are unsafe. Federal regulations and their own union headquarters disagree. In reality this is a featherbedding, make-work issue for the Alaska IBEW Union which wants to continue the deliberate inefficiencies that result from mandated use of the more time-consuming (and therefore higher-paying) archaic practice called "hot sticking." Using hot sticks to work live electric conductors is like trying to tie knots in a rope with chopsticks.

After many unsuccessful attempts by the IBEW to stop rubber gloving by legislative action, in June 1995, Alaska Labor Commissioner Tom Cashen, a former business manager for the IBEW Union, simply declared state regulations banning it. He offered no technical comment or reasoning for his action. An attempt was made in the 21st legislature (SB 243) to end the ban and allow Alaska to rejoin the rest of the modern electrical industry where rubber gloving is a legitimate workplace practice.

Even if the ban on rubber gloving were to be ended, any Alaskan electric utility policy would certainly allow use of "hot sticking" on a job if that seemed more appropriate and safe to the situation.

= KEY DOCUMENT (Most Important)

04/19/00 Chugach Electric board fails to support legislation ending rubber glove ban - Director Ray Kreig, -- "IBEW Local 1547's interest in banning rubber gloving has the effect of increasing the cost of electrical work because it probably doubles the time necessary to handle 'hot' wires (normally paid at premium rates)."  Chugach board vote failed 3 to 4 and again in 3 votes on 7/19/00 [see vote record].
02/03/00 ALASKA SENATE BILL NO. 243 - by Senator WARD - "An Act relating to and authorizing the use of insulated gloves as well as tools equipped with insulated handles for certain electrical and telecommunications work."   Bill history/action
12/18/95 CICE - SUMMARY DESCRIPTION OF BACKGROUND MATERIAL ON THE ALASKA RUBBER GLOVING BAN -- Collected by Meera Kohler, General Manager, Naknek Electric Association - CICE comment:  Alaska's rubber gloving ban is a classic case history of special interest manipulation of the political process and workplace safety regulation by IBEW Local 1547 for their own selfish purposes at the expense of the public.   
05/16/95 CHARLES K. WALLS (pdf) - General Manager, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative -  LETTER TO TOM CASHEN, COMMISSIONER OF LABOR - "Rubber gloving is a perfectly safe and accepted industry practice.  There is no basis, other than greed, to force Alaska's electric power industry to use stone age practices."   This is the "Gettysburg Address" against hot stick featherbedding and the IBEW Union's insulated rubber glove ban.  It is one of the finest and most effective comment letters of all time.  Same (html text)
05/05/95 MEERA KOHLER (pdf) -  General Manager, Naknek Electric Association -- LETTER TO TOM CASHEN, COMMISSIONER OF LABOR -- "Local 1547 has presented vociferous objection to the use of this technique (rubber gloving) even though they have provided absolutely no tangible evidence that it is unsafe or undesirable...Rubber Gloving is a routine work technique very widely utilized in all regions of North America. It is one of the many highly specialized tools of the trade used by trained professionals in the execution of their daily tasks. Thousands of linemen, many of whom are IBEW members, would be appalled should this practice be prohibited by state or federal law."  Same (html text)
04/08/92 Meera Kohler -  General Manager, Naknek Electric Association -- LETTER TO CHARLES  W. MAHLEN, COMMISSIONER OF LABOR -- "To continue to propagate the myth that rubber gloving is an unsafe act with numerous unspeakable dangers (eg. electro-magnetic fields) is to belie the fact that 90% of line departments in the United States routinely use rubber gloving techniques on voltages up to 34.5 KV and linemen trained and capable in both hot stick and rubber glove techniques will almost always choose the latter when either option is appropriate." 


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