Dominion Defends Lockout, Contract Demands
As the lockout of more than 900 Dominion Hope and Dominion Transmission employees across six states enters its second week, company officials insist their demands are fair while union workers say they’re holding out to protect retirees and future hires.
A mediation session in Clarksburg Thursday ended without a resolution, and while Dominion and United Gas Workers Union Local 69 officials say they’re open to continued talks, no additional sessions have been scheduled.
“We are not asking members of Local 69 to accept anything less than what non-union employees at Dominion Hope, Dominion Transmission and union members at other Dominion affiliates have,” said Dominion spokesman Bob Fulton in a statement.
The statement noted that although the union “did not take the signed tentative agreement out for a vote as they agreed, we remain open and available to continued discussions.”
Union officials said they made a proposal to the company during Thursday’s mediation session, but it was rejected.
“It was kind of heartbreaking,” said Mike Burr, a Local 69 member who lives in Moundsville, of Thursday’s mediation. He has worked at Dominion’s Hastings plant in Wetzel County for five years. “A lot of us thought that once the mediator came in to sit with both sides that this would all be resolved, and we would be able to go back to work, but that wasn’t the case.”
Burr said he wants to remain optimistic, “but it is very hard.”
“We’ve been fighting this battle for a good while,” he said.
Burr said many members of the public is criticizing the union for not accepting Dominion’s contract offer.
“I don’t think they know why we are turning this contract down,” he said. “We want to look out for our retirees and people joining our union.”
When asked what he and his fellow union members would tell the company if they had the chance, Burr said, “We want to be able to work. None of us want to be standing on the picket line.”
More than 900 Dominion Hope and Dominion Transmission employees were locked out of work early Wednesday. This includes dozens of employees at Dominion’s locations at Galmish and Hastings in Wetzel County and Ben’s Run in Tyler County. Workers are impacted in six states, including West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and Virginia.
The company is using supervisors and temporary workers to operate the plants during the lockout.
In a previous statement, Dominion officials said the company would be working “24/7 to serve our customers as we always have and are confident we can operate safely and meet necessary customer service requirements until the lockout ends.”