August 22, 2002
As of Monday, 3,700 Dominion Virginia Power regular repair and maintenance employees were back on the job after a 13-day strike. It marked the first work stoppage against the company in 38 years.
The tentative agreement was reached last Thursday night between the company and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 50. Its membership comprises linemen, electricians, meter readers and others involved in maintaining electrical service to customers in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.
Included in the tentative agreement is a nearly 15-percent compounded wage increase over the next five years, an enhanced retirement package, including provisions for early-retirement supplements, and improved health-care benefits, according to the company.
IF APPROVED over the next several weeks, the new agreement will succeed a previous three-year package ratified in 1995. It had been extended twice and finally expired March 31, 2002. Negotiation for the new contract began in late January.
"Now we can put our energies back together and renew our focus on serving our customers," said Edgar M. Roach Jr., the company's president and chief executive officer.
"Throughout the negotiations, we said we wanted to reach an agreement that was fair to our employees. We believe we have done that," added Thomas F. Farrell II, chief executive officer of Dominion Energy.
"We anticipate a smooth transition back to normal," Farrell emphasized. Since the strike, managerial and supervisory personnel have been performing the jobs of those on strike.
On Aug. 1 and 3, at the start of the strike, Northern Virginia was hit by two of the worst storms of the summer. As a result of the double hit, nearly 36,000 customers were without power for a period of time ranging up to 48 hours.
BEFORE THE strike, the company and the union, working in concert, had developed contingency plans for just such an event, according to Le Ha Anderson, media and community relations manager for Virginia Dominion Power.
"We had developed these plans in case of a strike. They were activated as soon as the strike went into effect, and they worked very well," Anderson said.
"Our supervisors and employees deserve thanks for working long hours to maintain power operations safely," Farrell noted.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers of energy. It employs nearly 17,000 people and has a production capability of more than 3 trillion British thermal units of energy per day. It also serves 3.8 million franchise natural gas and electric customers in five states.