April 5, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Shinnston, W.Va. – The Utility Workers Union of America announced March 28, 2013 that its members at FirstEnergy’s Harrison Power Station will receive $1.25 million under a settlement agreement negotiated by the UWUA to resolve numerous unfair labor practice charges against the company.
The settlement also requires the company to grant an immediate 6% pay increase and improve incentive bonuses that were unilaterally cut or eliminated by FirstEnergy at the Shinnston, W.Va. facility.
“This settlement is a huge victory for Harrison workers,” declared UWUA National President Michael Langford. “The UWUA will continue defending the rights of Harrison workers until they also win the strong, first union contract they deserve.”
The settlement resolves unfair labor practice charges filed by the UWUA against FirstEnergy at the Harrison facility, where the union represents over 150 bargaining unit employees. In January 2013, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint charging that FirstEnergy had illegally slashed Harrison workers’ pay and benefits during 2012 without negotiating with the union.
The NLRB recently announced plans to amend the complaint to pursue additional charges filed by the UWUA, after FirstEnergy unlawfully withheld yet another wage increase and annual productivity bonuses due to Harrison workers in 2013. The complaint also charged that the company had maintained improper work rules and engaged in illegal bargaining tactics at Harrison.
The settlement requires FirstEnergy to pay backpay to all Harrison workers victimized by the illegal conduct, to implement the previously-withheld wage increases, and to reinstate and even improve the bonus program and other benefits improperly reduced or eliminated by the company. The settlement also requires FirstEnergy to revise its work rules to comply with federal labor law and to engage in good faith negotiations with UWUA for a labor agreement for Harrison employees.
Workers at the Harrison plant voted for representation by UWUA in an election conducted by the NLRB in October 2010. Since then, employees’ efforts to negotiate a first union contract have been obstructed by illegal management conduct. UWUA leaders expressed confidence that the settlement victory will also help pave the way for a strong labor agreement.
“Harrison employees and other UWUA members throughout FirstEnergy have stood united together to make this victory possible,” declared Langford. “Now we call upon FirstEnergy to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair union contract for working families in West Virginia.”
Note: The UWUA represents 50,000 working men and women in the utility and related industries throughout the U.S., including 3,700 FirstEnergy employees in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland.