UWUA members at five Columbia Gas units in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio recently won significant gains in wages, healthcare, and other benefits, after facing down intransigent management bargaining tactics during contract negotiations.
When negotiations opened last fall, UWUA local bargaining teams were determined to secure fair wage packages and to rein in excessive out-of-pocket employee expenses under the company’s health insurance plans. UWUA member mobilization actions eventually overcame management stonewalling on the key issues over several months of hard bargaining.
Union members at Locals 475 and 479 – both based in the greater Pittsburgh area – and at Maryland-based Local 419 passed overwhelming strike votes during the dispute. The two Pittsburgh locals also conducted worksite “practice strike” picketing, and worked without contracts for months while negotiators dug in at the bargaining table for fair contract offers.
Meanwhile, UWUA Local 349 in Toledo and Local 436 in eastern Ohio were also pressing for similar improvements at the bargaining table.
UWUA members ratified strong contracts in February and March at all five locations. The five-year contracts feature more than 20% wage increases over the term of the contract – including supplemental wage adjustments applied each year before the percentage increases – plus health plan improvements capping out-of-pocket expenses and gains in additional health, retirement, and other benefits.