- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

Dominion Resources Inc. said yesterday that despite the absence of thousands of striking workers, it was successful in restoring power to customers affected by thunderstorms over the weekend.
Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said about 50,000 customers in the Shenandoah Valley and parts of Northern Virginia lost electricity, but as of midday yesterday, just 30 remained without power.
"We probably did a little bit better than normal," Mr. Genest said. "Our contingency plans are working."
About 3,700 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 50 went on strike after contract talks broke off Friday afternoon. It was the first strike by Dominion workers in 38 years. The employees are primarily electricians, meter readers and power-plant staff from Virginia, northeast North Carolina and West Virginia.
To make up for the striking workers, Dominion placed supervisors with relevant experience in electrical positions and hired some outside contractors.
Mr. Genest declined to specify how many supervisors were used or how many contractors were hired. A supplementary contingency move involving borrowing workers from neighboring utilities did not need to be employed, he said.
Calls to the Richmond headquarters of IBEW Local 50 were not returned yesterday. The union and Dominion had been in negotiations since January to craft a new contract to replace one originally ratified in 1995. The existing contract expired in March, but the union chose to continue working.
Sticking points in the negotiations center around a new retirement package and the company's elimination of a permanent disability plan. The union has demanded more retirement benefits and a decrease in health care premiums for retirees. Pay does not appear to be an issue; Dominion's latest offer included a 16.5 percent compounded wage increase over five years, which was nearly identical to that proposed by the union on July 15.
Mr. Genest said no negotiations took place over the weekend. He said the company is willing to meet with the union and a federal mediator.
Dominion has 3.8 million electricity and natural gas customers in five states. It earned $272 million (97 cents per share) during the most recent financial quarter ending June 30, up from $155 million (62 cents) from the like quarter in 2001.
Shares of the company closed at $58.08 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

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