Pittsburgh area utility workers end eight-week strike, OK new contract

by: The Tribune-Review Updated:

PITTSBURGH —

Union members on Saturday ended an eight-week work stoppage at four Pennsylvania-American Water sites in the Pittsburgh area.

The president of Utility Workers Union of America System Local 537 said the union approved a four-year agreement that protects against subcontracting workers' jobs and drops management's demands to curtail employee sick leave benefits. The 150 employees are expected to return to work on Monday.

“The sacrifices made by UWUA members in Pittsburgh over the past 60 days have clearly paid off with a strong labor agreement that will protect workers' job security,” Kevin Booth, president of UWUA Local 537, said in a news release.

Two representatives for Pennsylvania-American Water did not immediately return calls.

Booth said the employees began their strike on June 18. The previous union contract expired in May 2010. Since then, Booth said, union members have not received a pay raise.

The contract provides significant “catch-up” increases to help make up for the loss of any cost-of-living adjustment, Booth said, although the dispute was not over money.

“This dispute has always been over the basic right of utility workers to have some semblance of job security for our families,” he said.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.