(WKBN) – Workers at National Fuel Gas are preparing for a strike vote, according to a union official.
Heather Owczarzak, business manager for IBEW Local 2154, said the union failed to reach a contract agreement with National Fuel Gas Wednesday morning, saying the company’s “final offer” was overwhelmingly rejected.
Among the union’s issues with the contract offer were the wages offered and “disciplinary language” that Owczarzak called “extreme” and unnecessary.
“Wages are, on average, $6 an hour below our union members working under the New York contract with National Fuel Gas, doing the same jobs. The contract that expired had disciplinary language that was excessive. The disciplinary language in the ‘final offer’ is extreme and not consistent with other utility contracts in the areas,” Owczarzak said in an emailed statement.
IBEW Local 2154 represents National Fuel Gas workers in the Southwest New York and Northwest Pennsylvania region.
Owczarzak said the sides have been working toward another four-year contract for nearly 250 employees. A strike vote is now being planned.
“The public should know that these employees work to safely move natural gas at high pressures from Pennsylvania to New York and also to Canada. They work to deliver natural gas safely, at low pressures to your homes and businesses. There is much involved to operate and maintain the system,” she said in the statement.
The union has filed a charge before the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the company has not bargained in good faith.
Carly Manino, a spokesperson for National Fuel, released the following statement in response on Saturday:
“National Fuel values its workforce and its objective is to provide a fair and equitable contract with competitive wages and benefits to all our employees.
The Company denies the allegations of the Union’s charge and is confident that the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] will dismiss the charge after investigation.
National Fuel will continue safe and reliable operations, including repairs and responding to service calls and emergencies.”