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Utility union benefits from California wildfire legislation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Utility workers would get protections for their jobs, salaries, benefits and pensions as part of a measure allowing California power companies to raise electric bills to cover the cost of lawsuits from last year’s deadly wildfires.

The job protections benefit politically connected unions that joined with utility management in lobbying aggressively for the ability to pass along the cost of 2017 wildfire lawsuits to customers, even if the utility behaved negligently.

The measure is scheduled for votes in the Senate and Assembly Friday night following months of contentious negotiations.

Large power users and ratepayer advocates have blasted the measure. They call it a bailout of Pacific Gas & Electric company. PG&E; has been blamed for some of the 2017 wildfires that tore through Northern California.

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