Utility Settlements

By Cimini, Michael H.; Muhl, Charles J. | Monthly Labor Review, March 1995 | Go to article overview

Utility Settlements


Cimini, Michael H., Muhl, Charles J., Monthly Labor Review


About 4,200 workers represented by System Council U-4 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at Florida Power & Light Co. are working under a 3-year labor contract that features a new "early-out" option. Under the provision, employees aged 53 or older with 10 or more years of service will be credited with 2 years of age and 5 years of service towards retirement. The company estimates that approximately 7 percent of bargaining unit employees will be eligible for the earlyout program.

The pact provides an immediate $1,000 signing bonus; in the second year, a 1-percent wage increase and a lump-sum payment equal to 1 percent of the previous year's earnings; and in the third year, a 1.25-percent wage increase and a similar 1.25-percent lumpsum bonus. At the expiration of the previous agreement, the average hourly rate was about $20.

The settlement calls for several changes in health care benefits, some of which require increased employee sharing of health care costs. Annual deductibles increase from $175 to $225 for single coverage and from $525 to $675 for family coverage, maximum out-of-pocket expenses rise from $1,500 to $1,800 for single coverage and from $4,500 to $5,400 for family coverage, and the employee copayment for brand-name drugs increases from $5 to $15 per prescription. At the same time, employee monthly copayments towards insurance premiums are reduced from $95 to $87 for single coverage and from $122 to $110 for family coverage, and the deductible for preventative care services is eliminated.

Other terms enhance workers' empowerment through a joint committee that will develop minimum criteria for jobs; relax work rules to improve productivity by modifying the composition of work crews and allowing lower-paid employees to perform more job duties; and increase employer matching to employees' investments in the 401(k) savings plan. …

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