GU, Pepco Prepared for Possible Strike
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 02:09
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Works Local 1900 union voted to reject electricity supplier Pepco’s final contract offer Wednesday night, making a city-wide strike an increasingly likely possibility.
According to The Washington Post, union members rejected the offer by a five-to-one ratio, with over 1,000 members turning out to vote. The union represents about 1,150 Pepco workers.
“While Pepco has described their offer as ‘generous,’ we call it ridiculous, and we think when [the workers] see the offer, [they] will agree with [the union] negotiating committee that this offer should be a lot better,” IBEW President Jim Griffin said in a message to union members the day of the vote.
But Pepco Regional Communications Director Myra Oppel said that the company’s offer was more than fair.
“We feel it is attractive and mirrors our approach with managing employees,” Oppel said. “It has pay increases, hires more union workers and continues an excellent pension plan. We feel that it is fair and reasonable by any standard.”
IBEW and Pepco are resuming negotiations Friday in hopes of reaching an agreement. In the meantime, the existing contract will remain in effect until either party decides to terminate it, though the last extension expired Sept. 16.
If an accord cannot be achieved, the union’s next step could be to vote to authorize a strike. If the motion passed, IBEW would have to give Pepco 48 hours’ notice before formally going on strike.
No matter the outcome, Pepco has made prior arrangements to prepare for such a possibility.
“If they did decide that they wanted to go out on strike, we are fully prepared for as long as the strike may or may not go on. For the last several months, we have trained employees … who would help maintain the system,” Oppel said. “We also have contractors who are already here working on our system who would be available to assist in any outages. If there were any extended outages, we would use our normal process of requesting mutual assistance.”
Although Pepco is the university’s primary electricity supplier, the university does not expect any disruptions in power supply in the event of a power outage.
“In the event of a power outage and delayed response time from Pepco, Georgetown has systems in place to keep operations running and minimize the impact,” said Rachel Pugh, director of media relations.