News

No deal, so utility engineers to picket

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Workers with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 286 will picket Lakehaven Utility District soon to inform ratepayers that they’ve been working for the district without a contract since Jan. 1.

Lakehaven administrators and the union began negotiations last November, but a series of canceled meetings has slowed their progress toward a new contract.

“It’s hard to negotiate when (meetings have) been canceled six times,” Lakehaven general manager Don Perry said. “There’s been more cancellations than meetings this year.”

A Local 286 representative didn’t return calls to the Mirror by press time.

The stationary engineers represented by the IUOE are responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of certain kinds of equipment, like heating, air conditioning, ventilation and electric or steam-powered systems, according to the union’s Web site. Workers must be certified on several systems, and their skills base must include a working knowledge of chemistry, physics, applied electricity and blueprint reading.

At Lakehaven, IUOE members run the water treatment facility, do field work and operate the wastewater treatment plants.

In spite of the union’s announced plans to picket the district, Perry said the contract meetings that have occurred have been amiable.

He’s hoping the scheduling can be sorted out soon so the two sides can get to work on agreeing to a contract.

“The last contract (took) 18 or 20 months with a mediator,” Perry said. “The goal is to work faster than that.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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