Operations, mechanical and electrical maintenance, warehouse and garage workers at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio ratified a new agreement with Energy Harbor in early November. The contract covers roughly 100 craft workers who are members of Local 270. The local also represents the plant’s 50 technicians.
Perry underwent a recent ownership change related to FirstEnergy’s 2019 bankruptcy, in which the court allowed FirstEnergy to separate its generation business into a new, stand-alone company called Energy Harbor. However, the judge ordered Energy Harbor to abide by the terms of the Local 270-FirstEnergy collective bargaining agreement that covered the Perry workers until its April 30, 2022, expiration.
For decades, Local 270 represented hundreds of generation and distribution members at FirstEnergy under a single contract. That contract included the workers at Perry, who had been UWUA members since the plant’s initial activation over 40 years ago by what was then the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, later to become FirstEnergy.
When it came time for Local 270 to bargain the Perry contract last spring, the local faced two challenges: 1) for the first time, Perry workers were to be separated from the contract covering the local’s FirstEnergy distribution members; and 2) a new employer in Energy Harbor.
Local 270 President Chris Ericksen said the committee focused on keeping much of the former FirstEnergy contract and making improvements where needed. With the change of employer from FirstEnergy to Energy Harbor, the top member concern was finding an acceptable solution on pension benefits. “No one was happy that Perry members had a new employer and could no longer be part of the FirstEnergy contract or pension. The committee worked to negotiate a new pension that would protect the terms of the FirstEnergy plan for as many as possible and be acceptable to the membership,” he said.
The bargaining committee included Ericksen, Local 270 officers Rob Scheffler, Karl Scheffler and Jim Cantale; Cleveland Chair Mary Jo Herman; Ashtabula Chair Kevin Wolfe; Perry members Ryan Rokosky, Robert Flaugher, and Danielle DiMichele; and UWUA Region III representative Frank Meznarich.
The new agreement is retroactive to May 1, 2022, and includes guaranteed wage increases compounding to 11.94% over its three-year term. Certain warehouse classifications saw an additional $1.50 increase in their base hourly rate.
“It was a contentious process over 18 sessions, but we came out at the end with the best deal possible under the circumstances,” Ericksen said. “Members made it very clear to Energy Harbor that the UWUA would stand together.”