Penelec lockout coming to an end

Penelec officials said Monday they will end the lockout of Utility Workers Union of America Local 180 on Monday.

The action will end a 20-week lockout that began on Nov. 25. UWUA Local 180 employees were notified Monday that they will be returning to work under the terms of the company’s last, best and final offer of Nov. 6.

That offer contains wage increases, increases in shift premiums and meal allowances and additional operational improvements, such as a new job classification intended to increase customer service and efficiency.

“We are pleased that Local 180 employees will be returning to work and remain committed to resolving our issues,” said Penelec regional president Scott Wyman in a statement. “We will continue negotiations with UWUA to arrive at an agreed upon contract ratified by Local 180 members.”

In a statement late Monday, UWUA Local President Bob Walen said, “We are pleased that FirstEnergy and Penelec have ended this irresponsible lockout and that our members will finally be returning to work.

“Even so, we condemn FirstEnergy’s attempt to circumvent good faith bargaining by implementing concession demands designed to undermine customer service and fair labor standards.”

“Both sides had been meeting and will continue to meet. We wanted to get the employees back to work, and we are very pleased they are coming back to work.

“We will continue to negotiate and try to get a ratified contract by the membership,” said FirstEnergy Corp. spokesman Scott Surgeoner. “We hope it will be sooner rather than later, but

we wanted to get them back to work.”

Local 180 members will return to their normal operating location at 7 a.m. Monday, and employees will be reinstated to the positions they held before the lockout, the company said.

FirstEnergy, Penelec’s parent company, locked out about 140 line, substation, clerk and meter services employees in the Altoona, Lewistown and Shippensburg areas on Nov. 25 after the union rejected the company’s final contract offer.

The two sides met with a federal mediator six times but were not able to reach

an agreement.

FirstEnergy has been using management staff, employees from other FirstEnergy companies and contractors

to provide service to customers.