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Contract dispute leads to employee lockout in Ohio

Contract negotiations with employees are a vital part of many businesses’ operations in Ohio. Contract details can include anything from vacation time to health care to pension plans, and can become more complex when unions are involved. If the company and the union cannot come to terms, it can lead to lengthy discussions, or even more serious action such as strikes or lockouts.

A new contract between United Gas Workers Union Local 69 and a company called Dominion, was rejected by the union’s council. As a result of the action, union members have been prevented from working at Dominion. Dominion also says that the 915 members of the union have not been allowed to vote on the contract, which would cover a period of four years, thereby initiating an employee lockout.

There was no information about what Dominion’s next move would be, and it is unknown whether any current negotiations are underway between the two parties. The main issues that led to the contract refusal were sections of the agreement that would replace pensions with savings plans and implement the loss of medical insurance for new hires when they retire. Apparently, current employees would not be affected. The lockout applies not only to workers in the state of Ohio, but also workers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New York.

When parties cannot agree on the terms of a contract, it can result in lower revenues, production and costly delays. Whether work stoppages are instigated by employees or employers, companies may find it helpful to obtain experienced legal counsel in the area of employment and contract disputes to resolve their differences.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Ohio natural-gas workers locked out in labor dispute with Dominion,” Sept. 7, 2016

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