Members of Local 304 ratified a new agreement on March 1, bringing increased wages, time off protections, and more to 160 members at Monongahela Power’s Harrison Plant. The facility is a coal-fired generation plant in West Virginia owned by First Energy that provides power to large parts of West Virginia and western Maryland. The unit includes the plant’s operations crew, solid waste processing, coal handling, mechanical, electrical maintenance, chemical technicians, storeroom, work management, and instrument controls.
This is only the third contract they’ve bargained. UWUA organized the plant in 2010, but members fought for four years to achieve a first contract that met their approval. In 2012 the company presented two stipulated agreements; both were rejected by the membership. Members ratified their first contract in 2014 and negotiated their first renewal agreement in 2017.
Tom Cunningham, the local’s president, said members are pleased with the outcome: “The union proposed 12 items, and we won 9 of them, with not a single giveback.” The company also proposed 12 items but ended up backing down on all but three. First Energy had long pushed for a change to Paid Time Off (PTO), which a nearby, non-union sister plant had adopted. “When PTO came across the table, we shot it down,” Cunningham said.
Pay and time off were members’ top two priorities. Under the prior agreement, members had to give 72-hours advance notice for time off. The new agreement significantly shortens the notice requirement to between zero and 47.5 hours, depending on the unit and whether there is someone to cover the work.
The 10-member bargaining committee started meeting with the company in January and reached a tentative agreement by the February 28 expiration. On March 1, member turnout for ratification was the largest since the vote to unionize back in 2010. The new agreement runs through March 1, 2025.