(WIVB) — Domestic fuel gas workers in parts of New York and Pennsylvania could go on strike after their contracts recently expired.
Workers in Southwestern New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania are represented by IBEW Local 2154. The union says negotiations for a new contract recently ended abruptly after they could not reach an agreement with National Fuel Gas on wages and terms of employment.
According to Local 2154, National Fuel made a “final offer,” which was overwhelmingly rejected by the union.
The previous contract, ratified four years ago, expired on April 13.
The union is fighting for better wages, saying employees in the regions mentioned earn less than those in the regions around them.
“Under terms that National Fuel Gas recently decided to impose, wages for most employees in the northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York areas will be about twenty percent lower than the wages National Fuel Gas pays workers in nearby areas,” Local 2154 said.
The other point on which the two parties could not agree concerns the dismissal of the employees.
“IBEW Local 2154 wants its members to be protected from termination without
just cause,” the union said. “Currently, the terms National Fuel Gas imposes on its employees in northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York eliminate due process, union representation, and the need to show just cause, that employees in neighboring regions receive in disciplinary matters.”
Local 2154 business manager Heather Owczarzak says, “Pennsylvania contract workers are not
longer accept being treated as second-class employees.
National Fuel Gas released a statement on the negotiations:
“On April 8, 2022, IBEW Pennsylvania Local 2154P/PS voted not to ratify National Fuel’s best and final contract offer. The Company and the Union met again on April 11 and could not agree and are at an impasse.
The previous contract expired at midnight on April 12, 2022 and therefore, after a number of trading sessions leading up to that date, the Company implemented its best and final offer as of yesterday, April 13, which includes benefits and salary increases starting April 10. 2022. National Fuel values its workforce and its goal is to provide a fair and equitable contract with competitive wages and benefits to all of our employees.
The Company has bargained in good faith with union leaders (and will continue to bargain in good faith) and has not engaged in any activity that interferes with the rights of employees under national labor relations law.
National Fuel will continue its safe and reliable operations, including repairs and responding to service calls and emergencies.
Domestic fuel gas
A strike vote has been put in place and will continue until April 29 at 5 p.m. A decision to strike or not will be made later.
Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been on the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.