Yesterday, members of the Utility Workers Union of America picketed the home of the CEO of Pennsylvania-American Water in Mechanicsburg, PA.
A union media release late last year explains that, “Members of Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, and other unions conducted an informational picket outside the headquarters of American Water corporation (in Voorhees, New Jersey) to protest the company’s unfair bargaining tactics and its demands to impose major concessions on hourly employees during negotiations for a new national agreement. The demonstration was also joined by members (including eastern region director Jim Walsh) of Food & Water Watch, the nation’s leading grassroots organization promoting clean, affordable, and publicly-owned drinking water.”
“During current negotiations, American Water has demanded a 52% increase in the amounts employees would be required to pay to provide health insurance for their families, in addition to other concessions. A coalition of 18 different unions representing the company’s entire unionized workforce conducted a ratification vote during October on management’s contract offer. Ninety percent of American Water employees rejected the company’s takeaway demands.”
“The UWUA also pointed out that American Water has filed for massive rate increases from consumers across the nation, notwithstanding the company’s record profits and lucrative compensation packages awarded to top corporate officials. During the first nine months of this year, American Water collected net profits of $228 million on revenues of more than $2 billion. In addition, American Water granted nearly $7.5 million in total compensation last year to only five top executives.”
“Rate hikes currently being sought by American Water subsidiaries include a 14% increase in New Jersey, 15% in West Virginia, 22% in Virginia, 28% in Tennessee, 35% in California, 37% in Kentucky, and a staggering wastewater increase of more than 200% in south-eastern Pennsylvania. The UWUA has intervened in rate cases in New Jersey, California, West Virginia, and Tennessee challenging the company’s rate increase plans.”
The Arizona Republic reported last week that, “Canada-based Epcor Water Services Inc. agreed to buy Arizona American Water and New Mexico American Water. The deal is contingent on approval from regulators.” As noted on the EPCOR website, “EPCOR is governed by an independent Board of Directors and its sole shareholder is the City of Edmonton.”
The Council of Canadians will be sending a message of solidarity to the UWUA this week.