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STEELWORKERS REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT GAS CO.

 AUBURN, Mass., March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers of America (USWA) District 14 Director Lou Thomas said that a tentative settlement was reached late last night between USWA Local Unions 12298 and 12021 and the Southern Connecticut Gas Co.
 The Steelworkers' local unions represent some 290 workers in Southern Connecticut's Bridgeport and New Haven service areas.
 "It goes now to the members on Saturday for their consideration and vote," said Thomas, "and they'll decide whether it meets their needs."
 The proposed agreement calls for wage and pension increases and many other improvements Thomas noted. "But I think it's vitally important for the public to know, given what's going on with Boston Gas and Bay State Gas," Thomas added, "that these terms do not reduce quality health care or include co-pays for health care, nor a 'cafeteria-style' health plan, like Boston and Bay State are demanding."
 In addition, Thomas stated, the Steelworkers also reached new contracts earlier this year for its 125 members at Berkshire Gas Co. of Berkshire, Mass., and for its 100 members at Essex County Gas Co., Haverhill, Mass. "Neither contract," he said, "contained health insurance co-pays or 'cafeteria' plans."
 The union said both the Boston Gas Co. and Bay State Gas of West Springfield locked-out their Steelworker-represented employees when their contracts expired and the workers would not agree to the companies' demands for health care concessions. Members of IBEW Local 486 in Boston State Gas' North Hampton Division are continuing to work without a contract, the union said.
 The Steelworkers are also currently in active negotiations with Boston Gas' Malden Division, where the contract for the union's 200 Local Union 12007 members expires on March 28 at midnight.
 The Steelworkers Local 14930's contracts with Commonwealth Gas (Worchester, Mass.) and at Boston State Gas in Portsmouth, N.H., end three days later, on March 31. Plus, USWA Local 12012 members have their contract with Energy North (Manchester, N.H.) expire on April 14.
 Thomas applauded today's vote by the Massachusetts State House on the Gannon joint bill 2929. The Gannon bill guarantees unemployment compensation to locked-out workers and was passed by the State Senate last Thursday, March 18. It now goes to the governor for his signature.
 "No locked-out worker would have to go through a hearing to get their unemployment check, like we did at Boston Gas," Thomas said. Most of the locked-out 12003 workers got their unemployment checks yesterday and today, retroactive to five weeks ago, to go along with the weekly assistance checks their international sends them.
 "We're still waiting on a decision for the Bay State workers," Thomas said. "It's just totally wrong," Thomas charged, "that so many people can have their paychecks yanked suddenly by a cold-hearted company, then have to wait weeks to see if they can afford groceries for the kids. No working family should have to go through that agony."
 -0- 3/25/93
 /CONTACTS: Carl N. Morris USWA international representative at Ramada Inn, Woburn, 617-935-8760; or Gary Hubbard of USWA communications department, in Pittsburgh, 412-562-2442/


CO: United Steelworkers of America; Southern Connecticut Gas Co. ST: Connecticut IN: OIL SU: CON

CD -- PG010 -- 9816 03/25/93 17:20 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 25, 1993
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