Tell City Based Power Company Locks Out Workers

Workers for a Perry County based power company have been locked out of their jobs.

Line-crew workers for Tell City-based Southern Indiana Power Company were locked out of their jobs last week after they voted to turn down a final offer for wages and benefits offered to them in a four-year contract by the electric cooperative. Assistant business agent for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1393 Joe Bailey says the offer, which was turned down last Monday by vote, came up short when it came to giving workers a comparable wage to other workers that serve Indiana cooperatives. Bailey says Southern Indiana Power Chief Operating Officer Steve Seibert and members of the company’s board of directors made the decision for the lockout. He says it was done despite the fact that the employees had offered to continue work under the contract that had been set to expire last Monday.

Officials with Southern Indiana Power say the union waited until the day the agreement expired to negotiate, though previous negotiations had ended on September 16th. Officials also stated that the company had engaged in three days of talks with the union and offered several benefits to workers as a part of their offer.

Company officials further stated that their offer was fair, as it offered increased break hours, funeral and sick leave benefits, service watch pay, and changes in the medical insurance package that would give employees more flexibility and could have added 2 percent to their take-home pay. The company says the aforementioned benefits were included in addition to a wage increase.

Bailey says that the company’s offer (a 3 percent wage increase in year one, 2.5 percent in years two and three, and a 3 percent increase in year four of the proposed deal) would still leave line workers making less than the average employee at other cooperatives. He says the company would have to offer a 6 percent wage increase in year one just to get their employees up to the average salary of other rural line workers.

Bailey says the insurance savings that the company has referred to is due to an offer of a union plan to cover employees and he says that offer was extended to all coopertive employees and not just the line workers.

It is not clear on who is responding to or would respond to electrical outages or service calls in the wake of the lockout. Southern Indiana Power and more than a dozen other cooperatives statewide purchase their power from Hoosier Energy.