FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) today declared a lockout of members of Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 180 at its Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) subsidiary. UWUA Local 180 represents approximately 140 Penelec line, substation, clerks, and meter services employees in the Altoona, Huntingdon, Lewistown, and Shippensburg areas.
The action came after several unsuccessful negotiation sessions between the company and the union. Local 180 members rejected the company's Last, Best, and Final Contract Offer (LBFO) on Sunday, November 24.
"Providing safe and reliable service is a top priority at Penelec as we focus on minimizing any inconvenience our customers might experience as a result of this action," said Dave Karafa, president, Pennsylvania Operations, FirstEnergy. "While a lockout is not something we take lightly at FirstEnergy, we do not believe Local 180 has demonstrated the same level of commitment to reaching an agreement as the company. We were hopeful Local 180 members would ratify this contract proposal, which includes wage increases and benefits similar to other FirstEnergy utility union employees."
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The LBFO contained a wage increase of 8 percent over the three-year life of the contract, increases in shift premiums and meal allowances, and additional operational improvements such as a new job classification intended to increase customer service and efficiency.
As part of FirstEnergy's plan to ensure necessary Penelec work continues, employees from other areas of the company who have held line jobs previously or those who have received training will fill positions.
According to the UWUA, members at all three Local 180 worksites have become visibly militant against what they deem as company bad faith bargaining demands. Local 180 President Ben Wilkinson said that rallies and other activities will continue indefinitely until FirstEnergy management accepts "fair contract terms."
Penelec serves approximately 590,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties.