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After a long collective bargaining session that began on Thursday, July 24 and extended into the early hours of Friday, July 25, a tentative agreement to end the three week old strike by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 876 and the Alger-Delta Electrical Cooperative (“Alger-Delta) has been reached.
The tentative agreement provides for a contract with an effective date of January 1, 2014, that will end November 30, 2015.
The Union and Alger-Delta were able to reach a tentative settlement of the complex issues facing both parties with the capable assistance of Don Maki, a mediator appointed by the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service.
It is anticipated and hoped by both parties that the tentative agreements will be ratified by the Union and the Board, with an anticipated return-to-work date of Monday, July 28.
The Union also stated that in the event of any form of significant outage over the upcoming weekend that affected Cooperative member services, the Union employees would consider returning to work early in order to prevent any interruption of power.
The tentative agreement calls for wage increases in 2014 and 2015. The tentative agreement also provides for a switch from traditional Blue Cross-Blue Shield coverage to an HSA plan with an agreed-upon annual employer contribution. It also provides for the formation of a Health Insurance Committee with labor and management representatives, in an attempt to avoid future deadlocks or labor actions associated with the collective bargaining process and the ever-changing world of health care-- including most importantly the impact of the Affordable Health Care Act on small employers like Alger-Delta and related changes imposed or to be imposed by health care providers.
Tom Harrell, General Manager for Alger-Delta, pointed out that the tentative agreement “changes the dynamic relative to health care, in that employees are in a position to more fully participate in the selection of health insurance carriers and coverage”. He noted that Alger-Delta is looking forward to getting back to their primary mission—providing electric service to its 10,000 members in the Central Upper Peninsula.
Hank Matulewicz, Business Manager of IBEW Local 876, stated his Union members are pleased an agreement has been reached and looks forward to serving the Co-op members. Mr. Matulewicz added he is looking to build a more constructive labor relationship with Alger-Delta. he tentative agreement provides for a contract with an effective date of January 1, 2014, that will end November 30, 2015.