Cleveland Local G-555 won a huge victory recently with Dominion Energy Ohio when they successfully negotiated back into the contract automatic progression for more than 300 members in the Field Metering Services (FMS) Department. The local proved that it is possible to negotiate back into a UWUA contract things that were previously lost when concessions were given to help bring contract talks to a close.
Righting a wrong
In 1998, members of the FMS Department lost automatic progression within their job title. That allowed the company to promote only when they determined there was a need at the higher classifications.
As a result, for the past 20-plus years, the members in the entry-level Helper FMS 2013 (Helper) position and second-step Utility Person-Customer Service (UPCS) position could be stuck in those lower paying jobs for years before finally being promoted when the company determined there was a need. Promotion also varied drastically depending on needs at certain shop locations. One shop could see all of their Helpers promoted within two years, while other shops could see their Helpers languish for 4-5 years before having the opportunity to advance.
“This is a huge win for our local,” says Local G-555 Executive President Eddie Hall. “In a department that employs over 300 of our members, we were able to right a wrong.”
Ever since automatic progression for FMS members was bargained away, the union has kept it on the table. Finally, in late 2019, when negotiations to update the FMS agreement were needed to more accurately reflect the ever-changing business environment, the union was able to bargain progression based on time served within the classification.
Promotions bring raises
The new job descriptions call for a Helper to be promoted to UPCS after 12 months in the position; promotion could occur sooner if the employee fulfills all the requirements prior to the 12 months. Likewise, the job description for UPCS calls for promotion to Customer Service Representative B after 18 months, and again, promotion could happen sooner if the requirements are met earlier.
“Our members could be stuck in lower-paying positions and not reach the top rate of the department for over a decade. They will now progress to top rate in no more than three and-a-half years,” Hall explains. “There is no small gap in pay between Rep A’s and Helpers either, at over $16.00/hr. difference. Our newer FMS employees will make more money sooner, but more importantly will be exposed to all aspects of the work we perform sooner, making them better trained, safer, and more productive employees able to handle whatever the job throws at them. Most of the time when you lose something at the bargaining table, it is gone forever. We were thrilled that our team was able to win this back for our members!”
Local G-555 represents nearly 1,100 members employed by Dominion Energy Ohio.