UWUA National and local union leaders gathered May 12 in Columbus, Ohio to make plans for negotiations with electric utility giant American Electric Power at multiple locations during 2015.
The UWUA represents over 1,000 utility workers in eight AEP bargaining units across Ohio and West Virginia, plus an additional 200 employees at Ohio Valley Electric Corporation’s Kyger Creek power plant in Cheshire, Ohio. OVEC is a power generating company co-owned by various utility companies in the Ohio Valley, led by AEP with 43% ownership.
Most UWUA contracts at AEP expire over the summer and fall of this year. When negotiations opened for the first set of contracts set to expire, AEP proposed a concessionary contract demand that would explicitly grant management the right to change or even terminate employee retirement, healthcare, and other benefits at will.
UWUA National President Mike Langford and Local 111 President Dave Thompson convened a meeting of the UWUA AEP Joint Council in Columbus in May to plan the Union’s coordinated bargaining response to the company’s unfair contract demands. Local unions from across the AEP system attended the meeting, including elected leaders from UWUA Locals 111, 116, 264, 296, 430, 478, 492, and 544.
National working with locals
“UWUA members at AEP should know that the National Union is committed to working with local union leadership to turn back any attempt by management to impose unfair takeaways at the bargaining table,” UWUA National President Mike Langford stated following the meeting.
In addition to the bargaining units represented at the Joint Council meeting, UWUA Locals 418 and 468 have represented workers at AEP’s Tanners Creek power plant in Indiana and the Kammer plant in West Virginia for decades. In 2011, management announced plans to close the two coalfired plants at the end of May 2015, along with five other power plants in Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. Many workers were able to transfer to other AEP facilities or to retire over the last several years, with about 250 workers permanently losing jobs with the seven plant closures.
Banner image from Local 116’s website, http://www.uwualocal116.org/