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FirstEnergy and Penelec persist with lockout

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6 January, 2014Despite severe winter storm and potential outages in U.S. the electric company Penelec and its parent company FirstEnergy remain reluctant to consider union proposals and concerns and proceed with lockout of utility workers.

Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) System Local 102, an affiliate of IndustriALL, released a statement on 3 January strongly criticizing the on-going lockout of nearly 150 utility workers by Pennsylvania electric utility Penelec.

According to the union the company, which announced lockout three days before Thanksgiving on 25 November last year in a bid to increase own profits at the expense of workers and public safety rejected the union’s proposal during recent negotiations on 2 January 2014.

In the statement the UWUA System Local 102 President Bob Whalen said, “It is nothing short of reckless for FirstEnergy to continue to lock out skilled first responders in the middle of a dangerous winter storm. This company has shown utter contempt for its customers by continuing this unnecessary lockout, merely to pad corporate profits at the expense of public safety.”

According to the union the company only met with the union for six minutes in the morning and another twenty-five in the afternoon! The union offer to have all union members return to work while 'negotiations' continue and the threat of inclement weather hitting the area was rejected!

The locked out union members including linemen, substation electricians, garage mechanics, layout technicians, and meter readers at company worksites in Altoona, Lewistown, and Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, receive a strong support from local communities members, some of them visited the picket line organized by the union next day after negotiations.

IndustriALL jointly with Public Service International and web-based labour resource LabourStart launched a campaign in support of the locked out workers. To sign the IndustriALL-PSI-LabourStart campaign and write your protest message to FirstEnergy CEO Tony Alexander, please visit the campaign webpage. (http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=2070).

Leave also your messages of support and solidarity with the struggling workers on the UWUA facebook page https://www.facebook.com/uwua102.180