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USWA: USWA PACT WITH COMMONWEALTH GAS 'MODEL' FOR BOSTON, BAY STATE GAS

 CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The new agreement reached between United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local Union 12004 and Commonwealth Gas Company maintains the current health care coverage for all employees with no co-payments or cost-shifting, USWA leaders said today.
 "The Commonwealth agreement is a model for what our goals are in negotiations with Boston Gas and Bay State Gas," said Lou Thomas, director of USWA District 14. Thomas was referring to the two Massachusetts gas utilities that have, between them, locked out over 1,200 USWA members, the union said.
 "Besides fair wage and benefit increases, Commonwealth stuck to a commitment it made to maintain the workers health care coverage at a quality level," said Thomas.
 "This agreement with yet another New England gas utility further demonstrates how far Boston Gas and Bay State Gas have strayed from what is fair and reasonable for workers and their companies," Thomas said.
 The three-year agreement with Southborough-based Commonwealth Gas also includes wage increases of 3.5 percent and bonuses of $250 in each year of the contract. Local 12004 President Paul Heanue led the local union negotiating committee.
 Commenting on another set of Massachusetts public utility negotiations, Thomas condemned the lockout of 40 USWA Local Union 14930 members by Northern Utilities in Portsmouth, Mass.
 "Once again, the company decided to lock workers out of their jobs instead of accepting our offer to continue to work while we tried to hammer out an agreement," Thomas said.
 "Instead of trying to address the workers' concerns after our members voted to reject the company's inadequate offer, Northern Utilities just slammed the gates shut," said Thomas. Northern Utilities is a subsidiary of Bay State Gas.
 In other New England gas utility negotiations, USWA chief negotiator Carl Morris has scheduled negotiations with Energynorth Natural Gas in Manchester, N.H., for Monday, April 5.
 USWA Local Union 12012 represents 160 workers at Energynorth. Contracts expire on April 15 for production workers, May 27 for service workers, and June 15 for office workers.
 A previously scheduled negotiating session between locked out members of USWA Local Union 12003 and Boston Gas will take place on Tuesday, April 6, in Braintree, Mass., the union said.
 Thomas also announced that the first set of retroactive unemployment compensation checks from the state of Massachusetts will be delivered in the mail this weekend for members of USWA Local Union 12026 who are locked out of work at Bay State Gas in Springfield, Mass.
 "This weekend's mail should contain compensation for the first five weeks of the lock out," Thomas said. "The remainder of the retroactive payments should come next week."
 -0- 4/2/93
 /CONTACT: Charles McLaughlin of USWA/Auburn, Mass., 508-832-2524, or USWA Communications in Pittsburgh, 412-562-2442/


CO: United Steelworkers of America; Commonwealth Gas Company; Boston
 Gas; Bay State Gas; Northern Utilities; Energynorth Natural Gas ST: Massachusetts; New Hampshire IN: UTI SU:


KC -- PG009 -- 2696 04/02/93 17:30 EST
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Date:Apr 2, 1993
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