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December 8, 2013

Locked-out union members demonstrate at Penelec Altoona headquarters

ALTOONA — About 100 locked-out Penelec workers and family members spent more than an hour in Saturday’s biting cold demonstrating along busy West Plank Road near the company’s Altoona headquarters.

“It was just Family Day,” Dave Bilek of Hollidaysburg said at the main entrance. “All of the families affected by this lockout came out to show their solidarity and support.”

The group waved signs and cheered to acknowledge drivers passing who honked horns in support of the members of Utility Workers Union of America Local 180.

The demonstrators represented more than 140 Penelec workers in the area who were locked out of their jobs Nov. 25, the day after a contract offer from parent company FirstEnergy Corp. was rejected by members of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 180.

Union workers had been working without a contract since Aug. 31.

“We wanted FirstEnergy and Penelec to see the families behind all the workers – that we are not just numbers they are trying to extract more money out of,” UWUA Council 102 President Bob Whalen said of Saturday’s picketing.

Whalen and some of his negotiating team have been asked to meet with company management on Monday, but it is not clear if it signals the resumption of negotiations, he said.

“We have always been willing to talk to them,” Whalen said. “They can’t say that.”

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

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