WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- An electrical workers union in Washington has said no to a Pepco contract proposal and could soon vote for a strike, a union representative said.
James Griffin, president of Local 1900 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said more than 1,000 union members voted and that the proposal was rejected by a 5-to-1 ratio.
With the vote coming on the heels of the utility company's most recent rate increase, granted by the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, the company's service track record has been called into question.
Mary Cheh, who represents the district's Ward 3, called the commission "lap dogs for Pepco," and said the public panel "really missed an opportunity to improve Pepco's reliability."
Griffin said the company's response to the contract rejection would determine whether the union leadership would ask the members to vote for a strike.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that wages aren't the issue in the contract proposal. Union leaders said the union is more interested in protecting seniority as it applies to promotions, adjusting pay when workers take on a second role during emergencies and restrict the use of part-time workers in the company's call center.
Union members are also concerned that the company wants to take away their right to arbitrate changes to their health plan.
Company spokeswoman Myra Oppel said the Pepco management was "hoping they would see past the rhetoric to the reality that this was a fair and equitable offer."
In response to the vote, "We're mystified," said Bill Wolverton, Pepco's chief labor negotiator.
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