First Energy Threatening Lockout

140 local workers affected.
ALTOONA - First Energy is threatening to lock out 140 local employees if they don’t agree on a new contract by Sunday night at 6pm.
These negotiations affect workers in Altoona, Bedford, Ebensburg, Huntingdon, Lewistown and Shippensburg.
Local union leaders say the issue boils down to retirement benefits, and cutting staffing. They were surprised by talk of a lock out, felt they were making good progress before Wednesday’s announcement.
 “We have never called a lockout. We have never had to have a day like today in the history of First Energy. We have never locked employees out,” First Energy’s President of PA Operations Dave Karafa says.
First Energy says if union workers don't agree to a new contract by Sunday night at 6pm. They'll be locked out starting Monday morning.
"We really didn't expect them to do this. We think it's really inappropriate right now both for customers and workers," UWUA Local 102 President Bob Whalen says.
Workers protested outside the Penelec building Wednesday.
Their contract with First Energy expired in August, and negotiations have been ongoing since May.
First Energy says they want workers to be allowed to vote on their last proposal.
Union leaders say it all comes down to money and they're not planning on a vote soon.
"We don't see new people being hired to replace our workforce and we don't see the infrastructure being upgraded. I think it's a critical question that needs to be asked is where does all the money from Pennsylvania go?" Whalen says.
If a lockout does happen Monday, First Energy says customers won't be affected.
“We can get that done with Penelec employees as well with supporting employees from First Energy operating companies and supplement it with some contractors,” Karafa says.
First Energy says they made their most recent quote best and final offer November 6th. Neither side gave any indication on whether or not there would be any more negotiations before Sunday's deadline.

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