New York Workers union, IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 2154, members voted to grant the union the ability to call a strike. Though this doesn’t mean that a strike is imminent, it puts pressure on the National Fuel Gas company to offer a better contract to the workers following their threat to go on strike.
The issue arose after the previous agreement ended on April 13th, and the union rejected National Fuel’s “best and final” offer. Under the new contract, workers in Southwest New York and Upper Pennsylvania find themselves with 20% lower wages than those in surrounding areas. The union also contends that the employment terms for other National Fuel plants are far longer than theirs. The work the employees do is crucial; in a statement, IBEW Local 2154 business manager Heather Owczarzak said, “The public should know that these employees work to safely move natural gas at high pressures from Pennsylvania to New York and also to Canada. They work to deliver natural gas safely, at low pressures to your homes and businesses. There is much involved to operate and maintain the system.”