We admit it. It was CPS Energy’s nuke fixation that first tickled our news sense. And, yes, we kind of like that. Maybe a little too much. Still, they kept tickling. But behind the veil of back-to-the-future atomic mentality, we found something darker and equally troubling. As management sold its various requests to City leaders, they repeatedly boasted of cutting 500 jobs in the past five years. Soon we were hearing from those cast-off employees and the many angry, demoralized, and intimidated workers still in-house. We read the dozens of discrimination complaints in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ lawsuit. Met with those afraid to climb a pole because of the year-plus backlog in the utility’s electrical maps. The woman stripped of title and responsibility for discovering millions of fraudulently paid service orders.
Behind all this legal gator-rasslin’ we also found (after drawn-out Open Records disputes) the crocodile’s smile in CPS Energy’s legal bills.
In the last two years, CPS has paid out $6.2 million for outside legal counsel, $2.7 million to the staff attorneys, and $900,000 in out-of-court settlements.
Entering 2009 with five more discrimination suits popping in the courthouses, the utility is reportedly less interested in settling quietly this round. So you and I can bank on informative full-blown theatrics to take the stage.
On the bright side, CPS has made last-minute frantic maneuvers to repair its fractured relationship with the IBEW, including bringing in new Human Resources staff to start repairing the damage of five years of turf wars unleashed by middle-management cost-saving measures. The upper tier seems to have gotten the message that out of sight doesn’t stay out of mind for long.