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NLRB Considers IBEW Complaint on Ohio Utility Layoffs


July 8, 2010

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Five members of Toledo, Ohio, Local 245 employed by Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative were laid off during contentious contract negotiations. The NLRB is considering unfair labor practice charges.


Toledo, Ohio Local 245 was expecting a routine negotiation with the approach of the February expiration of a contract covering members at Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative. The co-op had other ideas. Says Local 245 President Phil LaCourse:

We met with the co-op management and, in our first meeting, offered to roll the agreement for one year and take a look at how the economy is doing next year. This was the only proposal presented to the co-op.

Managers at cooperative that covers North Baltimore, Bowling Green,Findlay and other smaller towns south of Toledo had a different take on the third successor agreement since the utility was organized about 10 years ago.  Says LaCourse:

The co-op brought in Darrell Jacobs, a union-busting attorney from Danville, Ill., who introduced tons of unreasonable demands covering linemen, clerical and other members. The union, at that point was basically negotiating against ourselves.

When it was clear that the workers wouldn’t cave in to the cooperative’s takeaways, managers hit back, laying off five workers in the midst of negotiations.

Local 245 filed an unfair labor practice charge against the terminations and protested 13 other violations with the National Labor Relations Board.

On June 19, the NLRB announced that a hearing will be held in August before an administrative law judge to review the union’s charges. The NLRB Region 8 Office is also seeking injunctive relief from the national NLRB Office in Washington, D.C. to get the laid off workers back.

In an article in The Findlay Courier, LaCourse says:

The sad part is, we’ve got five people out on the street, and their families are hurting. There’s a human factor. (The terminations have) taken a toll on a couple of families.

Marilyn Widman, an attorney representing the union, says that a federal order may be obtained by the NLRB in Cleveland to put the terminated workers back on the job, pending the outcome of the hearing.

Compounding the union’s case, work performed by the terminated workers is now being done by workers in the utility’s nonunion Prism Propane, a liquid propane subsidiary.

The union’s complaint on the use of nonunion workers could be considered in the August hearing.