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May 4, 2014

First Energy faces unfair labor practices complaint

— While still considering allegations related to Penelec workers’ 20-week lockout, the National Labor Relations Board last week filed a complaint against Penelec’s parent company for unfair labor practices against another union local.

The complaint against FirstEnergy Corp. involves negotiations with the Utility Workers Union of America Local 102, representing union workers at West Penn Power and Potomac Edison. It involves more than 700 workers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

Issued by the NLRB regional office in Pittsburgh, the complaint cites the company’s refusal to bargain with the union over the effects of recent plant closures and transfers of jobs, its failure to provide required data for bargaining and engaging in other bad-faith practices.

“This complaint represents another milestone in our efforts to win justice for utility workers at FirstEnergy,” Local 102 President Bob Whalen said.

“The wide-ranging scope and the serious nature of violations charged in the complaint demonstrate that something is severely wrong with this company’s labor relations policies.”

The company will defend its practices before a judge at a hearing scheduled for July 22 in Pittsburgh, company spokes-man Todd Myers said.

“This is not a ruling,” Myers said. “At the hearing, an administrative law judge will hear all the evidence from both sides.

“We disagree with any allegation that we have not bargained in good faith.”

Meanwhile, the NLRB is still investigating UWUA Local 180’s claim that FirstEnergy didn’t provide the Penelec employees’ union representatives with information about health benefits during negotiations and unfairly locked out the workers.

Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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