July 3, 2008

Union Files Unfair Labor Charges Against FirstEnergy

By J.D. Prose, Beaver County Times, Pa.

Jul. 3--SHIPPINGPORT -- The National Labor Relations Board will have a hearing in September on unfair labor practice charges filed against FirstEnergy in April by the union representing Bruce Mansfield Power Plant workers in Shippingport, a union official said Wednesday.

Herman Marshman Jr., president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 272 in Midland, said a hearing will take place Sept. 11 in Pittsburgh.

FirstEnergy has until July 14 to respond to the complaint, according to the notice of hearing issued by the National Labor Relations Board.

Marshman said the complaint was filed because the union claims FirstEnergy has refused to negotiate on health-care issues and "made unilateral changes to the health care without negotiations, which affects current employees and also any retirees."

About 600 workers and retirees are covered by the union, Marshman said.

Mark Durbin, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said the complaint only concerns the specific cases of two recent retirees who are disputing being placed in a company-wide retiree health plan.

Durbin said the company had yet to be notified that a hearing had been scheduled. "We don't think we're wrong," he said. "We think our position is the correct one."

Bruce Mansfield workers have been without a contract since Feb. 15 when their three-year deal expired.

In filing the unfair labor practice charge, Marshman said he was trying to protect the rights of employees in case the union votes to strike and FirstEnergy hires replacement workers.

Asked whether a strike is possible, Marshman replied, "Oh yeah. Most definitely."

J.D. Prose can be reached online at [email protected]


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