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Update: Union, First Energy Brace For Lockout

More than 140 employees to be locked out Monday.
ALTOONA - After a meeting Sunday night, the local Utility Workers Union of America says no deal to contract negotiations with First Energy.
 
About 140 employees from six towns will report to work Monday morning, but the company says they'll be locked out.
 
"We went through it thoroughly and explained it to them accurately. They overwhelmingly rejected the company's offer," Local 102 Union President Robert Whalen says.
 
Robert Whalen says the union is still not satisfied with First Energy's contract terms, especially the retiree health care benefits. They say employees should receive them through 2017, but Penelec disagrees.
 
"As far back as 2009, First Energy began to notify retirees that retiree health care contributions would go away at the end of Dec. 2014. For these workers in this union, it's no different," Penelec Spokesperson Scott Surgeoner says. "At 7 a.m. we will lock the union members out."
 
Surgeoner says Penelec is willing to continue negotiations, but will stay true to their lockout decision until a deal is reached.
 
"The Union had that last best and final offer the company made. That is our offer and until they act on that or change their, whatever action they took Sunday evening, I can't speculate on how long this will go," Surgeoner says,
 
Whalen hopes it won't be long.
 
"It's detrimental to our customers, it's detrimental obviously to our members and our families and there's no reason for them to do this, other than they are holding our members hostage and the rate payers of PA and Penelec hostage also," Whelan says.
 
He says the union is willing to continue working until an agreement can be made and is trying to remain confident.
 
"We will continue to negotiate. They are the ones that are locking us out. They are the ones that are refusing to negotiate. They are the ones putting customers in harms way,” Whalen says. "I'm confident that if they want to sit down and be reasonable and negotiate with us and not dictate to us, we will certainly come to an agreement."
 
In the meantime he says nothing will change.
 
"We will show up to work tomorrow and they will have to lock us out. We are prepared to go to work, do our job, serve our customers in this area and provide great electric and reliable service," Whelan says.

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