Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dominion locks out workers - impacts facilities in Allegany & surrounding counties

Move impacts facilities throughout Erie, Wyoming, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Livingston, Potter, and McKean Counties.
“Dominion implements illegal lockout on UGWU Local 69 membership”
At 12:01a.m. midnight September 7, 2016 Dominion Transmission/Hope gas notified the Union it was implementing a lock-out of 950 UGWU Local 69 members. The Local is represented in 6 states VA, MD, PA, NY, OH AND WV with over half of the members employed in West Virginia. The Union considers this lockout a clear violation of the National Labor Law Act and have responded with several labor charges being filed. Picketing is scheduled throughout the 6 state area. The Union presented the Company with an offer to not strike while negotiations were ongoing in return not to be locked out but the Company never responded and ultimately locked the membership out. The Union made such an offer to avoid a work stoppage of any kind and to provide the best possible protection for the general public. The parties are scheduled to hold a session of bargaining on Thursday September 8th with the Federal Mediator. “All Union members are willing to return to work but are being refused entry into the facility’s, this is not a strike," said Craig Bradford President UGWU Local 69.

September 6, 2016

Dear Dominion Transmission/Dominion Hope Local 69-represented Employee: 

Since July 15, 2016, we have been unable to reach an agreement with Local 69 on the Company’s proposals (Alternatives A and B) for a new collective bargaining agreement. As a result, Local 69-represented employees will be locked out beginning Wednesday, September 7, 2016, at 12:01 AM. This means you will not be permitted to work after that time until further notice. 

The Company is locking out Local 69 employees because of Local 69’s refusal to accept any of the Company’s offers or honor its obligations under the August 26, 2016 tentative agreement. That tentative agreement, which the Union reneged on, consisted of the Company’s Alternative A proposal, plus enhancements that included financial incentives the Company previously offered to Local 69 back in June in exchange for a neutral recommendation on the Company proposals the membership voted down. It also included a promise that Local 69 “agrees to recommend a favorable vote on the mutual agreement arrived at by the Negotiating Committees.” On August 31, 2016, however, Local 69 informed us that it would not take the tentative agreement out for a ratification vote. 

The Company has told the Union from the beginning of negotiations that any agreement would have to include the new hire proposals. These proposals are fair and consistent with what other employers are offering in today's marketplace. These new hire provisions already apply to all of the non-union employees across Dominion. A majority of the 3,100 Dominion Virginia Power employees who are represented by IBEW Local 50 recently voted to accept these same proposals in a labor agreement almost identical to the proposals that the Company offered to Local 69 months ago. We have had long and mutually beneficial collective-bargaining relationships with both Local 69 and Local 50. Unfortunately, the Local 69’s unreasonable position has left the Company with no option other than the lockout to persuade the Union to change its position and agree to a new contract. 

Under the lockout, Local 69-represented DTI and Hope employees will not be allowed to work. If the Union ratifies or otherwise accepts as a contract any of the Company’s offers - Alternative A or Alternative B or the tentative agreement reached on August 26, 2016 (Alternative A with enhancements) - the Company will end the lockout and you will be able to return to work. During the lockout, the Company will continue to operate using temporary replacements capable of operating its system until regular employees return after the lockout. 

We regret that this action is necessary but we cannot operate indefinitely without the stability of a labor contract and under the constant threat of a strike at any time with no notice. However, faced with the possibility of a strike now or in the winter months at our busiest season, we must act to ensure continued safe and uninterrupted service to the public and our customers. We have a duty to serve our customers and the public, and we will not jeopardize safe and reliable service to our customers and the public who rely on us. 

We understand that you will have questions in the days ahead about your benefits during the lockout, the status of negotiations, when you can return to work, etc. The Company has established a website https:\\\dti_hope_labor_negoti where you can get negotiations updates. It will also have a link where you can submit questions and responses will be posted. Further, you should also consult with your Union if you have questions about any of their positions. 

During the lockout, the Company will not tolerate any violence or destruction toward Company employees, equipment, replacement workers, contractors or their property. All such acts will be immediately investigated and appropriate action taken, including referral for potential criminal prosecution by state or federal law enforcement. This may involve the FBI and the US Office of Homeland Security for incidents affecting the Company’s physical or cyber assets that are part of the country’s critical energy infrastructure. 

When the lockout ends, we will notify the Union and you of the date and time you can return to work. We will also post that information generally on our website. Please keep your contact information up to date. 

We have come to this decision only after careful thought and with great reluctance. We thank you for your dedicated service and look forward to your return. As always, be safe. 


Brian C. Sheppard
Vice President—Pipeline Operations
Dominion Transmission

Jeffrey A. Murphy
Vice President & General Manager
Dominion Hope