Big Win at NLRB for American Water Co. Workers
October 25, 2012
An administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board has upheld a charge by a coalition of 19 unions, including the IBEW, accusing American Water Co. of violating the National Labor Relations Act.
American Water has been ordered to make its workers whole –including interest—for additional payments they have made for medical insurance, short term disability coverage and retiree health insurance after the company unilaterally modified the terms of its agreement in January 2011. The back pay liability is estimated to be several million dollars.
The judge held that American Water violated the NLRA by failing to notify state mediation agencies about an ongoing dispute with the unions over benefit coverage.
The company, which sells water to customers in hundreds of municipalities, plans to appeal the ruling.
American Water will make payments to eligible members of bargaining units represented by St. Louis Local 2; Springfield, Ill., Local 51; Joplin, Mo., Local 95; Indianapolis Local 1393 and Kansas City, Mo., Local 1464.
Seventy bargaining units representing 3,500 members in 14 states negotiate wages and working conditions locally. However, their benefits are bargained on a national basis led by the largest union at American Water, the Utility Workers Union of America.
Bob Fox, assistant business agent, Indianapolis Local 1393 represents 60 American Water workers covered by two local contracts at 15 locations in his jurisdiction. He says: