Negotiations between Pepco and union workers at impasse - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Negotiations between Pepco and union workers at impasse

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Pepco's union workers may be on the verge of a walk out. After 5 months of negotiations the union is scheduled to vote Wednesday on Pepco's offer. So what's the impact for Pepco's 788,000 customers? FOX 5 Consumer Reporter Laura Evans has the story.

Pepco calls it their "last best and final'' offer. They presented it to the union last week.

But union leaders don't like the offer. In fact their language is very strong calling it "the worst proposal this local has faced in its entire history." "Our unanimous decision is to overwhelmingly reject this proposal on September 26th."

So the question is what does this potentially mean for you? To get those answers we have to look back through history.

The only other strike in Pepco's 116 year history was back in August of 1985.

Thirty-three hundred workers picketed for days after contract negotiations fell apart.

Eighteen hundred management employees stepped in to do the work.

The union leadership is quoted as saying Pepco had problems handling outages at that time. But Pepco tells a different story.

Myra Oppel with Pepco says, "We disagree. There was no material difference in response and reliability at that time."

Oppel says Pepco was prepared in the last strike and they're prepared once again just in case.

"We've been training management employees for several months."

Oppel says there's nothing at this point that the customer needs to do to prepare.

She says Pepco has more than 400 contractors who could handle any outages if they do pop up in the case of extensive outages.

Oppel says Pepco would use normal mutual assistance routes to cover in that case.

But Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner says the problem is this comes at a time when the Pepco customers are already unhappy with Pepco's performance and this leaves customers open for the potential of things going from bad to worse.

FOX 5 reached out repeatedly to the local union worker's representatives but they never called us back.

The International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Union Local 1900 is scheduled to vote Wednesday. If the union rejects the offer they could strike or Pepco could declare a lockout.

At this point, the president of the local union is quoted as saying he's not sure a lockout or strike can be avoided.

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