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Enstar employees strike

Posted: August 11, 2014 - 9:50pm  |  Updated: August 11, 2014 - 10:01pm
Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion ENSTAR employees picket in front of ENSTAR Natural Gas Company on the Kenai Spur Highway Monday in Soldotna. The 20 field workers and supporters from the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 367 are part of statewide strike over failed negotiations for pension and health benefits.
Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion ENSTAR employees picket in front of ENSTAR Natural Gas Company on the Kenai Spur Highway Monday in Soldotna. The 20 field workers and supporters from the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 367 are part of statewide strike over failed negotiations for pension and health benefits.

Enstar Natural Gas Co.’s Alaska operations employees went on strike Monday morning.

The striking workers are at Enstar’s Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna area branches, according to a release from the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 367 that represents the Enstar employees.

The union and the natural gas utility have not been able to settle differences over retirement benefits, and Enstar has not negotiated fairly, the union claims.

“Enstar has refused to provide information to the union, it has intimidated witnesses for reporting Enstar misconduct, it has lied about the funding level of the pension plan, it has denied leave cash in requests of union employees, and it has threatened employees with the loss of health benefits,” UA 367 alleges in an official statement.

The union says it has filed four unfair labor practice complaints regarding Enstar’s conduct and it expects to file more.

About 150 employees are involved in the strike, union counsel Chuck Dunnagan said. The union represents both Enstar’s clerical and operations workers.

Enstar spokesman John Sims said he could not comment on the strike as of Monday morning.

“We will continue to focus on delivering safe and reliable service to our customers,” Sims wrote in official statement.

Enstar has nearly 140,000 natural gas customers in Southcentral. The company has taken heat recently for rate hikes related to lower demand for gas because of this year’s warm spring in the region.

Union representatives claim Enstar is demanding reduced benefits to new hires. They would get a 5 percent company contribution to a 401(k) retirement plan.

The guaranteed monthly benefits and a 2 percent profit sharing portion of the pension plan for current employees would remain in place.

The clerical workers narrowly approved a contract with the revised retirement benefits, while the operations group “strongly and emotionally rejected it,” the union reports.

“The short takeaway is that we are not asking for any increase in pension benefits,” Dunnagan said.

Both contract offers were for three years, a period that began March 31, he said.

As for further negotiations, Dunnagan said none are scheduled. There was miscommunication between union and company leadership regarding a meeting set for Aug. 9, which ultimately didn’t happen, he said.

Emergency operations crews were instructed by union leadership to remain on the job Monday until work sites and equipment could be secured.

 

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at elwood.brehmer@alaskajournal.com.

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Norseman
3236
Points
Norseman 08/12/14 - 05:27 pm
3
0
So I wonder if the 60% price

So I wonder if the 60% price increase Enstar is cramming down our throats is to help pay for all the scab labor coming up from the lower 48.

beaverlooper
2862
Points
beaverlooper 08/12/14 - 06:18 pm
3
1
The problem with local 367 is

The problem with local 367 is they won't work. That's why the Fairbanks local just took Valdez away from them and the international just looked the other way.

Suss
3533
Points
Suss 08/12/14 - 08:02 pm
3
2
Proud of the Strikers

Striking on behalf of the future worker shows true grit. The contracts were all good to go until Enstrar wanted to screw the next new employee by changing the new employee retirement plans.

Dividing employees by class, or Tiers, is the beginning of the end of worker solidarity.

The State of Alaska has 4 (four) classes of employees Tiers 1 through 4. Guess how they rate for health benefits and pension protection?

Taking away from some employees will cause a resentment toward the employees that have a benefit not available to the new member.

Union busting from within.

The last great stand for new workers in current history was

The 1997 UPS strike for the wages and benefits of the part time workers that did not have any benefits.

They won. Not a penny for the strikers themselves, but the lowly new employees that were not being treated fairly.

Proud and loyal workers, looking out for the young new workers.

Please support these fellow neighbors in their strike.

First Enstar raises everyone's rates and then turned on their future workers.

Please do what you can to stand with strikers.

cheapersmokes
897
Points
cheapersmokes 08/13/14 - 09:33 am
1
4
Sorry

Sorry but I cannot find one iota of sympathy for the strikers! Unions have lived out their usefulness long ago and now just exist to feed themselves off of the backs of the members! What is wrong with awarding lesser benefits to new hires....you know times and situations do change!
How about if they just give them all a raise so they can then be fired from a better job? It would take less than one day to replace them all and they would be happy to work for the wages and conditions in place now.

jford
1951
Points
jford 08/13/14 - 11:45 am
6
1
Yeah, that's right, screw the workers, what have they ever done.

Bring back child labor, that worked out really well.

And how about a return to 80 or more hour workweeks for a few cents an hour.

Pensions, retirement benefits? Screw that, let the corporations keep all their profits, it's not like the workers enabled them to make those profits.

Health care? Dump all health care, they're only the workers, think how much better off the owners could be if they took that away too.

OSHA, worker safety concerns, dump the whole idea of worker protections, who cares if a few workers die on the job, they're only workers. We can always get more workers, right?

Hey, and let's do away with those pesky environmental regulations, pollution is much preferred to clean air and water, who needs that, when there's a dollar to be made now, why worry about the future, it's only our own children who'll suffer the consequences.

Anti-monopoly laws, scrap them. What could go wrong?

That cheapersmokes, … he's brilliant, no?

After all, he lived his life enjoying the benefits of what the unions brought him, things like a 40 hour week, weekends off, pensions, health care, but why should anyone expect anyone else should be allowed the same benefits? Screw them, right, cheap?

Raoulduke
3015
Points
Raoulduke 08/14/14 - 04:53 am
3
1
Unions

If it were not for the unions. America would never have know"THE MIDDLE CLASS".

cheapersmokes
897
Points
cheapersmokes 08/16/14 - 06:15 am
1
5
Unions

I granted that unions have done a lot to improve the standard of living and also safety of many people in this country. However, unions have outlived their usefulness and now only exist to continue to feed off of the backs of their declining memberships back. JFord, that brilliant oracle of Democrats and unions above claimed unions credit for everything when in fact virtually none of it is due to them. Except 40 hour work weeks, pensions and health insurance. And how many workers would pay their dues if they were not taken out of their paycheck automatically. I would bet on less than 10%. Recently union workers in Detroit voted to reduce their future pension benefits 6 billion dollars to help the city come out of bankruptcy.

I was a Teamster and they wanted me to accept a business agent position. My employer offered me a management position. I took that but put the union into trusteeship first since the principal officer was getting a $500 daily cash advance at a local casino and fired the union office workers in an attempt to cover it up. Their are still a few good unions out their who actually care about their members and of course a union is only as good as it's members! Government cannot afford the benefit packages they have given to unions so of course they want to reduce them for new hires...only makes sense to me!

Suss
3533
Points
Suss 08/16/14 - 07:49 am
4
2
Not Bankrupt

Enstar is not anywhere near bankrupt, so comparing them to Detroit is not realistic.

This compromise vote was to stop a larger cut in current pension payments for retirees.

Bankruptcy court will have the final say.

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/07/detroit_retirees_and...

"Pensioners approved the plan amid fears they could have deeper cuts -- up to 30 percent, the emergency manager warned -- imposed on them by the court had they voted "no" and opted to retain the right to fight the reductions."

These retirees are also waiving their State of Michigan constitutional protections of their pensions.

The mess in Detroit was not caused by Union workers.

leewaytooo
1759
Points
leewaytooo 08/18/14 - 05:25 am
2
2
not caused, still they

not caused, still they contributed to the problem.

while not all union members in Detroit contributed to the

excesses.... still......some were part of the problem...

people are people, and some will always take advantage

of any situation.

the city of Detroit is in bankruptcy court seeking to

have it's debts reduced and/or removed from the books.

all the while the city has a museum full of priceless

art, worth billions. pensions are being slashed,

and the art is being protected by clever financial

posturing.

as to some union members "gaming" the system.....

I read where in the water department a supervisor that

was responsible for submitting "hours worked" would

give overtime not worked for money in his pocket.

some people will do anything and it is not just union

workers. just look at the repukes that enter congress

and when they are done, their financial net worth is far

greater than the total of their accumulated yearly salary.

cheapersmokes
897
Points
cheapersmokes 08/18/14 - 06:55 am
1
5
Keep in mind

You have to understand that Detroit has had a Democratic mayor and council for about 25 years now and of course they granted nice yearly pay and benefit raises to their main supporters to ensure their future election campaigns had adequate funding. This country cannot even come close to affording the huge monthly retirement packages that are now on the books in many cities, counties and states. I hope your children come and kick you in the marbles daily for the mess we are leaving to them! Even if the current US Senator from Alaska gets voted out of office he will still draw his annual salary of over $175,000 a year for the rest of his life!

Suss
3533
Points
Suss 08/18/14 - 08:15 am
4
1
Lost Mind, not Keep Mind

Cheapersmokes

Where does one go to find such bogus information?

"A three-term congressman (or one-term senator) who has now reached retirement age would be eligible for an annual pension of $17,588 for six years of work. That's generous, but not close to full pay."

"To collect, a congressman or senator must be age 62, or be at least age 50 with 20 years of service, or be any age with 25 years of service."

"Under the most recent pension program, adopted in 1984, the size of a pension is based on the highest three years of a member's salary, the number of years of service and a multiplier, which is 1.7 percent for the first 20 years of service and 1.0 percent for subsequent years."

"Here’s an example, using a typical 25-year rank-and-file member who retired this year. The pension would be the sum of two calculations. First, multiply $172,443 [the average salary over the last three years] times 20 years times 0.017. Then, multiply $172,443 times 5 years times 0.01 and add that number to the first calculation. The total: about $67,250 per year."

http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2013/jan/11/chain-email/can-me...

cheapersmokes
897
Points
cheapersmokes 08/20/14 - 11:02 am
0
4
Congressional retirement

Suss, I know personally three congressmen (former) here in Minnesota and they all told me they are still collecting their full former pay with COLA increases or other voted in pay raises for life and then it will transfer to their wives for their remaining years. Why would a candidate raise over 6 million to get a job that would only pay them $350,000 or so?

Typical Democrat with their head buried in the sand and believing anything the see on the internet! Next you will show some crap about Obama's approval rating being close to 70% when in fact it is near the lowest ever recorded.

Suss
3533
Points
Suss 08/20/14 - 12:35 pm
4
0
Call, Bluff on Retirement

Name the "three congressmen" and let’s do a little research.

A quick search will prove what the retirees are earning.

http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid='0E%2C*PLC8%22%40%20%20%0A

Raoulduke
3015
Points
Raoulduke 08/20/14 - 07:12 pm
1
1
Retirement

Once again credibility comes in question.According to the Minnesota State Retirement System.Cheapersmokes is either very gullible to believe such dribble,or just states out of thin air misinformation. No Credibility NONE.First it was the salaries at the Minneapolis V.A.-All FALSE claims.Then the Liberal Alaskan politician.Cheapersmokes should know.There are NO true liberal politician's in Alaska.

Raoulduke
3015
Points
Raoulduke 08/20/14 - 07:12 pm
1
1
Retirement false

Once again credibility comes in question.According to the Minnesota State Retirement System.Cheapersmokes is either very gullible to believe such dribble,or just states out of thin air misinformation. No Credibility NONE.First it was the salaries at the Minneapolis V.A.-All FALSE claims.Then the Liberal Alaskan politician.Cheapersmokes should know.There are NO true liberal politician's in Alaska.

cheapersmokes
897
Points
cheapersmokes 08/22/14 - 09:13 am
0
1
I have been told

I have been told at a young age to never get into a battle of wits with someone who is obviously unarmed so I will ignore the recent comments and continue to gloat over the election results of the Alaskan Democratic party. They could most likely hold their next convention in a pay telephone booth and save the rental fees of a meeting place.

Suss
3533
Points
Suss 08/22/14 - 11:22 am
0
0
Been Told of $175K fib

Due to the brain surgeries, a one time pass on the normal

Proof of someone's inability to tell the truth and will write this off

tolerating the obvious special needs.

Please no more lies.

December 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm
"Hello, I am xxxxx xxxxxx of Minnesota but soon to be back up on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. I retired when I was 39 after I was the world’s first survivor of a ruptured basilar tip artery brain anyuerism back in 1991. It took a team of 12 neurosurgeons twelve hours and a total of 130 man hours to get it clipped off. I started networking then and have been making a living ever since."

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