TID, Lineworker Union Dispute Dominates TurlockCityNews.com Forum

Andee Goodwin|

The ongoing debate between Turlock Irrigation District lineworkers and management dominated TurlockCityNews.com's first-ever TID Candidate Forum, held Tuesday at Turlock's American Legion Hall.

The forum was attended by three of the four challengers for two seats: both Division 5 challengers, incumbent farmer Ron Macedo and retired irrigation worker Darrel Monroe, and Division 3 incumbent agribusinessman Joe Alamo. The Division 3 challenger, Dan Agundez, a retired electric supervisor, was unable to attend due to a prior engagement.

Of 20 audience questions submitted, nine were related to the dispute. A further five questions looked to attack a specific candidate in this heated race.

The lineworker dispute dates back to December 2011, when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' contract with TID expired. Though negotiations have proceeded since then, the two sides remain far apart.

The situation escalated in September 2012, when all TID lineworkers did not answer calls to fix downed electricity lines. The outage, which TID management blamed on the labor dispute, left 45 customers without power for 48 hours.

Despite the contentious situation, negotiations are still continuing with the IBEW.

“We've been working in good faith with our negotiating team,” Alamo said. “We will continue the negotiations, and we're going to find an agreement as soon as possible.”

But that agreement might not come until after the election is completed, Alamo said, as he believes the IBEW is banking on electing labor-friendly candidates. Agundez is a former member of the IBEW, which has donated to his campaign.

Monroe, a former TID water distribution operator whose father was a linemen, says the problem isn't the union: it's the management.

“I believe it can be fixed by changing this management and the board,” Monroe said. “That's what I'm here for, is the people. … Until something is done with the GM (Casey Hashimoto) there will be no negotiations because he is carrying a vendetta.”

Two audience questions specifically asked for a response to comments from Hashimoto that he “lost respect” for IBEW employees after the September 2012 outage.

“I don't think it will have any bearing on negotiations,” Macedo said, noting he has a lot of respect for the IBEW employees.

It's a TID director's job to balance between IBEW's wants and needs and customers' wants and needs, Macedo said. And it's a fine line to walk to keep the rates low, while keeping employees fairly compensated.

Monroe called for a return to the days of yore, which he said would reduce rates. Firing managers, adding more lineworkers, and ending the use of contract employees from Texas are among his priorities.

The district is wasting money, and sending it to Texas, rather than hiring more local workers, Monroe said.

But the incumbents say that the hiring of contractors came because of a need to ensure reliability for TID ratepayers. Since the lineworkers union failed to get the power back on last September, the board wanted a guaranteed backup plan – hence the contract crews.

“I know it's not the most popular choice, but that's the way it is right now,” Macedo said.

Alamo, too, noted his commitment to reliability.

“I'm going to do everything I can to get the power back on,” Alamo said. “If I could, I'd climb the poles myself.”

The lineworker dispute wasn't the only item discussed Tuesday.

Both Macedo and Alamo noted challenges associated with the state's renewable energy mandates, which require TID source a percentage of its power from green sources.

“I'm doing everything I can to maintain a status quo electricity bill,” Macedo said. “But it's expensive to get green energy.”

Both Macedo and Alamo noted that rates have increased specifically because of the high costs of green energy. The only rate increase since Macedo or Alamo were elected has come in the form of an “environmental charge,” not a base rate increase.

And the need to relicense TID's Don Pedro Reservoir while maintaining the district's water rights was noted as a top priority, too.

Through the relicensing process, many environmental groups are fighting for a share of TID's water. And a State Water Board proposal would see the district lose 35 percent of its water – or more – to benefit fish populations, fallowing hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land.

“Hopefully we're not going to have to deal with that, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen,” Macedo said. “Water is the lifeblood of our economy here, and we certainly don't want to see any flows go down the river.”

Macedo, noting his experience as State Director of the California Farm Bureau, said he'd be able to perfect TID's message to the federal government to ensure the water stays local. TID is a model for sustainability, he said, which uses the water better than anyone else around, benefiting farmers and groundwater users alike.

Monroe's tactic was more straightforward.

“I wouldn't give them a drop over my dead, cold hands,” Monroe said.

As the debate wound down – after a few audience outbursts – each candidate made closing remarks.

Alamo painted himself as an accessible dairyman and farmer, trying to represent the ratepayers' interests. Macedo touted his farming roots and state connections, which he believes will help the district secure its water future.

And Monroe, casting himself as the outsider with inside information, positioned himself as an agent of change to what he sees as a “conspiracy” at TID.

“It's up to you people,” Monroe said. “But it looks like to me, and I've dealt with this for years, there's a conspiracy going on here. … It starts with the board, and it filters right on down through the management.”

The recorded debate is available for viewing below.

TurlockCityNews.com TID Candidate Forum at Turlock American Legion Hall 10-08-13 from TurlockCityNews.com on Vimeo.

TID Candidate Profiles:
Dan Agundez, Divison 3
Joe Alamo, Division 3

Ron Macedo, Division 5
Darrel Monroe, Division 5 (Did not return questionnaire)

Comments 12

  1. Henry P says:

    Darrell Monroe looks like a stupid person. He hates management and blames them on everything

  2. Summer Shoates says:

    How could you say darrell monroe looks stupid? he work for tid for over 20 years.he knows more about tid than most the members sitting on the board.. shows how littke you really know herny c… never judge a book by its cover.. and for the record.. it is poor management!!!

  3. Latino Debate says:

    To Henry P, actually lets say TID Manager, looks like a desperate comment by a desperate manager. Actually at the Latino Debate at the city hall Darrel was on point with many discussions. Macedo was so frustrated that even at one point he crossed his arms like ” a kid not getting his way” then leaning back so far in his chair I thought it was going to tip back. Every time they asked Darrel a question he was straight forward and “to the point”, Macedo talked so much that the timer buzzer went off every time and never really answered the question asked? Even at one point Macedo argued with Darrel about a subject within the district that Darrel had copy’s to hand out to anyone that wanted to see it, the host then asked Macedo if he had any proof of what his argument was and he said no. Darrel is the only Candidate running out of all 4 that has refused donations to his campaign, stating that he is running for his Passion of the district, not to raise money for a campaign. And I know by just a few of Darrel’s supporters ” Farmers & Business Men” raising money wouldn’t be a problem. And to comment on the above article, this forum was a joke at the American Legion Hall! The outburst in the audience was because there were questions not being asked that were written down, and they were asking why? Specially when the interviewer was saying they were finishing early? It looked like TID was controlling the questions being asked?

  4. David Peters says:

    My aunt almost died because these IBEW “brothers” refused to do their job during an unauthorized sick out. I agree with Hashimoto that they’re not deserving of ANY respect. Monroe is simply a shill for the union. Don’t be fooled by this lackey. And who was the bimbo in the audience screaming profanities? Monroe’s wife?

  5. David's Peters Wife says:

    I’m David’s wife Iwanna Peter, Casey talks out of 2 sides of his mouth! On one side he said that he couldn’t get ahold of 1 TID lineman durring the outage, then on the other side he said that overtime is not mandatory? The out of state contractor only works Monday through Friday, so they wouldn’t of got the power back on either? Also my aunts fine she’s just going through the change lol! My husband is border line scitsofrinic, so don’t mind him he feels for the G.M.

  6. David's Peters Wife says:

    I’m sorry and I’m stupid. A lineman forced me to write the above comment. The lineman’s new name shall be OutofLineman.

  7. Casey must go! says:

    My aunt died and I blame Alamo and Macedo for her death. If they hadn’t raised electric rates, she would have been able to run her heater and not got pneumonia.

  8. TID customer says:

    “OutofLineman” is great. I will forever remember that one.

  9. Delhi Agri-Businessman says:

    I believe that Joe Alamo is a good fit for the Board, and I would vote for him if he were in my Division. Macedo on the other hand I think he needs to go! I am a promenade farmer in Delhi, it really infuriates me when Macedo alleges he comes around his division to see how everything is going, “That is a blatant Lie!” a lot of people don’t even know who he is? 2 years ago I phoned Mr. Macedo numerous time’s with a concern about my irrigation water, “Not even getting a call back” but now all the sudden when it comes to getting re-elected his phones always on and he makes visits to his division “Malarkey” it’s just campaign talk by another politician! He states that he’s this big farmer, I can’t even tell you where 1 of his partials are? Macedo claims to be on all these Boards but still has time for TID? He don’t even have time to answer his phone, let alone be a good functioning Board Member! At the last 2 Public Forums Macedo has went against what he first said, now all the sudden he is talking like he is the Lineman’s best friend, and he was part of outsourcing TID Line Working jobs that our “Local” graduates could be apprenticing for! Monroe in past Board Meetings talks about TID “Four Fathers” who built the District and had a certain vision for the District when they were dead and gone, and this wasn’t it! they are “Rolling Over In There Grave”. I find it funny that Macedo uses the word “Four Fathers” now, tooken rite out of Monroe’s mouth! Roy Miekle founded the District, and he was stated to of said that he wanted TID to be self sufficient with Water & Power, so it’s Rate Payers would have low rates and the Irrigation water would be free! Now the “Big Wigs” of the District keep barrowing money and then Raise Rates to Offset the Loan, which in turn “Raises Rates” “Higher” & “Higher”. My friend farms in Division 3 and said that Alamo is very in-tuned to there needs, wish I could say the same about Macedo! Vote Monroe! we need change! and he was very in-tuned even as a Ditch Tender!

  10. Poser 1983 says:

    So, let me get this straight, two decent, hard-working individuals are running for TID seats and there are being attacked on this website? Does this have anything to do with the advertisers on this website? Monte Vista Small Animal Vet Clinic (TID board member Santos) Community Vet Clinic (Santos again) The disgusting animal crematorium (Santos), the pumpkin patch on Canal (TID Macedo) the baseball gig (Santos’s bro-in-law), do you get my drift…The reason all of the negative comments against Santos, Alamo, Macedo, anyone from TID is because Fransen is bed buddies with Santos. Enough said

  11. TID Santos pulls the puppet strings says:

    I usually don’t get involved in much TID politics but my neighbor works at Monte Vista vet and she told me, Monroe comes in with his animals and she overheard Santos making a deal with him, that if he and Agundez won, then Santos would vote their way and get rid of Casey and the rest of the moronic management who can’t or won’t make a good decision if their lives depended on it. So who is Santos batting for, his fellow incumbents who are bought and paid for by corporate farmers or the new guys who actually hae experience in dealing with water and power issues? How long will this comment stay up on this website or will it even get posted? You make the call.

  12. Rob says:

    I also want to be Mayor one day.

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