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UWUA locals unite against FirstEnergy management practices

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The 10 Utility Workers Union of America locals at FirstEnergy have adopted a "resolution of solidarity" committing them to coordinated bargaining against what they say are unfair management attacks on union workers.

The resolution, signed in mid-February by the locals' presidents, launches a campaign uniting all 3,700 UWUA members employed by FirstEnergy.

"FirstEnergy's assault on union workers — directed by top corporate management — continue without regard to employees or the communities we serve," reads a March 4 action alert put out by the national union.

Among the FirstEnergy actions provoking the resolution, according to the alert, are drastic cuts in employee benefits at many locations and an anti-union campaign waged by FirstEnergy management during a UWUA organizing drive for professional engineers at the Perry Nuclear Station in Ohio.

Also included are takeaways forced on workers during negotiations for a first union contract at Harrison Power Station near Clarksburg.

In that case, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint Jan. 31 against FirstEnergy for alleged unfair labor practices at the Harrison Power Station, based on charges the UWUA filed in 2012. The NLRB is seeking reinstatement of wages and benefits and what the union estimates might amount to $1 million in back pay.

"Under the resolution, UWUA locals will coordinate negotiations to prevent company attempts to ‘whipsaw' individual local unions into substandard contracts," the action alert reads.

The national union will use a single lead negotiator at every FirstEnergy location.

FirstEnergy is proud of the fact that more than 7,700 employees, or about half of its workforce, is unionized, according to spokesman Mark Durbin.

"During contract negotiations we work hard to resolve any issues," Durbin said. "We have always bargained in good faith and will continue to do so in the future."