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Last week, union members who serve over 10,000 Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association members in Alger, Delta, Menominee, Marquette and Schoolcraft counties went on strike.

IBEW Local 876 and Alger Delta representatives have met multiple times in an attempt to reach consensus on a new labor pact, but haven’t been able to come to an agreement.

Alger Delta officials today chose to clarify the details that surround the unresolved negotiations in the areas of wages, benefits and working conditions. “Safety has been mentioned in our contract negotiations. Safety is a top priority and we are committed to the safety of our employees, our members, and the public,” said Tom Harrell, General Manager at Alger Delta. “As a testament to this commitment, Alger Delta received safety accreditation from the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program in 2013 after passing a rigorous safety compliance evaluation conducted by independent safety professionals. We could not have done that without commitment from our employees, so they deserve the credit for our safety performance.”

For simple tasks like meter disconnects, reconnects and exchanges, Alger Delta dispatches a trained and qualified person to perform the assigned job. The IBEW alleges that every job requires two lineworkers, and any other practice is unsafe. Sending a trained and qualified employee to perform simple tasks complies with OSHA standards and is a common practice among other co-ops and Michigan electric providers.

Negotiations also continue over the issue of rest periods. Rest periods are mandated when employees are working extended hours, typically during outage or storm conditions. To ensure employees have sufficient rest time, Alger Delta proposes to increase the rest period from the current four or six hours to eight hours. “This is a commonly accepted arrangement that the IBEW has agreed to at hundreds of other utilities,” said Harrell. “I don’t understand why they’re fighting it here,” he added.

The issue of wages and fringe benefits remains on the table. In Michigan, a typical journeyman lineworker represented by IBEW Local 876 has a total compensation package, including fringe benefits, of around $100,000 per year and can earn a lot more if they are willing to work overtime. Alger Delta’s compensation package exceeds that level and is regarded as one of the best among all Michigan electric cooperatives.

“Alger Delta is working diligently to bring this strike to a close,” said Harrell. “We stand ready to meet with the union representatives at any time. We want our employees back to work so we can get back to serving the members’ interests.”

Alger Delta has a qualified operations team in place to handle electric operations until a new agreement is reached between the parties.

About Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association

Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association is a nonprofit electric co-op owned and democratically controlled by its members. The cooperative provides electrical services to more than 10,000 accounts. To learn more about Alger Delta visit http://www.algerdelta.com.