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Latest News - December 2011

December 19, 2011
Vectren locks out workers

265 union workers are turned away

Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana-North locked out 265 workers after union employees rejected a new three-year contract.

Union officials call the action disappointing so close to Christmas.

“The lockout was necessary simply because without a contract in place, we don’t know when they may choose to strike or simply walk off the job,” Vectrenspokeswoman Chase Kelley said. “So, we had to take the initiative to put our contingency team in place.”

The company’s continuity team includes about 200 management officials, plus an additional 300 contractors, Kelley said.

“We planned for this several months in advance,” Kelley said. “While we were optimistic that we could reach a deal, we at the same time run a work-stoppage contingency plan, that says if and when we have a strike or lockout.

Vectren North serves 570,000 natural gas customers in central and southeast Indiana, including Jackson. The utility provides natural gas services in Seymour, where it has a facility on West Second Street.

Vectren and union leadership for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers No. 1393 and United Steelworkers Local Nos. 12213 and 7441 agreed in October to start negotiations in advance of the Dec. 1 contract expiration.

Vectren extended the contract for two weeks to allow union members to vote on the contract, which included a 2.5-percent pay raise in the first year; 2.75 percent in second year; and 3 percent in third year, employees retiring Jan. 1, 2012, would receive an additional $25 per month to increase monthly supplement to $425 from $400.

More than 80 percent of IBEW and USW membership voted on the contract, with 69 percent of voting against its terms.

“We are hopeful that we can re-engage with the union,” Kelley said, “and that they would reconsider our offer. We believe it to be very fair.”

The Tribune-Star of Terre Haute reported that Bob Fox, IBEW 1393 business representative, said the contract issue is not about wages or pay increases, but instead the biggest issue to union members “is the company made the decision back in March 2011 to close 16 of the 29 offices that we have members in,” and consolidate areas into fewer offices.

That raised safety concerns for workers and customers, Fox said.



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