First Energy Corporation is continuing to work on reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the Utility Workers' Union Local 102. Potomac Edison spokesman Todd Meyers said the union's contract expired last April, but employees are continuing to work under the terms of the expired agreement. "They represent a number of employees, about 680 linemen, meter readers, substation workers, and support personnel," said Meyers.
"First Energy offered the union a good and final deal back in October, but the union has not voted on it. We met on Wednesday and again on Thursday trying to come to an agreement. We're working now to schedule a series of meetings for April," continued Meyers.
Union workers say First Energy's plan to stop paying a portion of the health insurance now given to retirees is unfair because the company recently extended that benefit for several years to another one of its union locals, but a company spokesperson said the Cleveland area union was given that extension only because the company was closing some of its power plants and 150 union members were losing their jobs as a result. "No one in Local 102 is online to lose their jobs and all of First Energy's non-union and union employees were told back in 2009 that the company would eliminate the retiree health benefit by the end of 2014," he said.