New Owner, New Contract for Local 351

Members of Local 351 have long operated the combustion turbine power generation plant in Lorraine, Ohio. When their collective bargaining agreement expired last July, they faced bargaining with the plant’s new owner, Starwood’s IHI Power Service Corp., which had purchased the plant from First Energy.

The natural gas and diesel-powered plant serves as a peak station during periods of high demand, primarily in summer and winter. Members work year-round, conducting maintenance in off-peak periods.

“We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but ended up with a productive process,” said Local 351 President John Socha.

He’s served as president for over 10 years, but this was his first contract negotiation. In 2016, members accepted the company’s offer of a five-year extension of the 2011 agreement, provided it came with annual wage increases.

Socha said a lot of time at the table was spent bringing the Local 351 contract into alignment with those of other IHI plants, some of which are also represented by UWUA. In October, members ratified a new four-year agreement that includes annual percentage increases, improvements in shift and Sunday differentials, maintenance of health and pension benefits, paternity leave, more flexible sick leave, and increases in meal allowances.