Local 116 recently settled a three-year contract renewal with American Electric Power (AEP). The local represents about 140 linemen and substation workers in the Canton, OH, region. IBEW represents other AEP workers in the same area.
The new agreement runs through June 2025 and includes 9% in guaranteed wage increases for all members as well as extra increases ranging from 4.5% to 8.5% for five classifications. It also eliminates progression steps for some titles, enabling members to reach maximum pay more rapidly, provides an increase in meal money and adds personal days for new employees.
President Jason Fabynick said negotiations were tough: “AEP tried to divide and conquer by playing IBEW and UWUA members against each other, but we didn’t fall into that trap.”
While wages were on everyone’s mind, quality of life issues, particularly safety, were just as important. Since learning about the UWUA peer-to-peer safety committee model at the November 2021 Power for America virtual training, Fabynick and his team have been holding meetings with the company to try to adopt a worker-directed safety program. UWUA National Safety Director Scotty McNeill traveled to Ohio last spring to meet with AEP management and Local 116 leadership to explain the benefits. Although not included in this contract, Fabynick is not deterred. “We didn’t get it this time, but we definitely put it on AEP’s radar.”
Fabynick is proud of the job the bargaining committee did to keep members informed throughout the process. He was joined at the table by Matt Compton, the local’s vice president; Jordan Miller, 116’s treasurer; Jonathan Wright, safety officer; members Robyn Steward, Ken Estep, and Brian Bintz; and UWUA Region III national representative Frank Meznarich.
“The committee worked really hard to be as transparent as possible and members responded with strong support for the committee,” Fabyick said. He added, “The entire local is grateful for the help of President Slevin, who attended a session during a particularly tough part of the process and helped keep things moving forward.”