- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) Dominion Virginia Power and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers resumed talks yesterday as about 400 union members chanting "corporate greed, we don't need" rallied at the state Capitol.
About 3,700 power-plant operators, maintenance personnel, linemen, meter readers and other workers walked off their jobs Aug. 2 after seven months of negotiations failed to produce a contract.
The union presented the company with a new contract proposal Friday. Company officials reviewed the proposal, and talks resumed yesterday.
The company said it had offered a 16.5 percent compounded wage increase over five years, pay increases for shift differentials and employees working in costly Northern Virginia, and pension plan and medical benefits improvements.
Union officials said the sticking points include the quality of benefits the company gives retirees, and the company's removal from its previous offer of a success-sharing plan that could have been worth up to $15 million to members.
Under the watchful eye of state Capitol police, the demonstrators marched around Capitol Square several times before rallying at the Bell Tower on the Capitol grounds.
Union business representative Don Hartley said the union chose to rally at the Capitol "because it was a symbol of the rights and freedoms and prosperity to which American citizens are entitled."
He said the IBEW also wanted to put a human face on the strike for the public and Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, who has said he is monitoring the situation closely to ensure that power supplies are not interrupted.
The company had no comment on the union rally. "They were perfectly within their rights to do that," spokesman Dan Genest said.
Dominion Virginia Power is a division of Richmond-based Dominion Resources Inc. This is the first strike against Dominion, formerly known as Virginia Electric & Power Co. and then Virginia Power, since 1964.
The company said it trained managers and salaried employees to fill in for the striking workers. The company also is using nonunion contractors.
Nuclear-reactor operators questioned the expertise of those filling in for them. "We go every five weeks for training to maintain our license," said Mark Taylor, a licensed reactor operator at the North Anna nuclear plant in Louisa County.
Contract talks with the IBEW Local 50 began in January. The union's previous contract was a three-year deal from 1995 that was twice extended for two years.

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