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Union workers strike outside A.C. Electric in Mays Landing

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Union workers were seen picketing Tuesday, after negotiations broke down with Atlantic City Electric and the contract expired Thursday.

IBEW Local 210, which represents nearly 400 workers, was out in force outside the Mays Landing location Tuesday.

Each side has cast blame at the other, with the company saying their "best and final offer" was presented.

"We feel confident the company bargained in good faith and provided a competitive offer that is fair for employees and customers," Atlantic City Electric said in a statement, insisting their employees "are compensated fairly."

"The offer presented included a five-year deal with incremental increases totaling 16 to 20 percent by the end of the contract term and numerous other benefits," the statement said. "Currently, the average Atlantic City Electric line person earns $177,326 annually, which includes overtime. At this time, the union is on strike and we remain open to bringing both parties together to reach an agreement."

But Zach Story, IBEW's business manager, had a much different take.

"The truth is far different," he wrote in one comment on the company's Facebook page, calling the officer "insulting."

The offer does not include a 20 percent increase, Story said.

"The wage increase offered does not keep up with inflation and leaves members with less money in their pockets to pay their bills and take care of their families," he wrote. "The company’s statement that the average Atlantic City Electric line person earns $177,326 annually is disingenuous. These hardworking linemen must first complete a multi-year apprenticeship and then work literally thousands of hours of overtime annually to earn those wages.

"The base wage for a lineman is far less and the majority of IBEW 210 members earn substantially less than lineman," he added.

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Instead, executives "pay themselves inflated bonuses, handsome retirement packages and exorbitant salaries while continuing to raise customer rates and erode employee benefits and working conditions," he wrote in another comment. "The parent company has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in various fines throughout the country and their everyday operations are littered with unqualified management employees. IBEW 210 members are the men and women who actually keep the lights on day and night, during COVID, after Hurricane Sandy, on weekends, in the freezing cold, the oppressive heat and the driving rain and yet the Company’s management feels we are beneath them and less deserving of fair pay and benefits than they are. Do better Atlantic City Electric. Do better for your employees and do better for your customers."

Customers will not see interference in service despite the strike, the company insisted.

"We have contingency plans and highly qualified staff in place to ensure our customers' electric service is not affected," the statement read. "We will continue to respond to address any customer needs and electric emergencies, should they occur. Atlantic City Electric is committed to delivering safe and reliable energy service for our customers and the communities we serve."

author

Lynda Cohen

BreakingAC founder who previously worked in newspapers for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

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