VALORIE EVERSOLE - Daily Union Reporter
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 702 took to picket lines in front of the Illinois Consolidated office on West Main Street in Shelbyville Friday, marking the first day of their official strike.
The strike, which officially began at 10 p.m. Thursday, is the result of a break down in negotiations Thursday between the local and Consolidated Communications. It involves all Illinois Consolidated offices where the union members work.
According to Consolidated officials, the talks have stalled primarily because the parties are not making any progress on resolving pension reform, which is the company’s key priority.
Consolidated Communications officials said Friday that TV, phone, and Internet services should not be affected as a result of the work stoppage.
“We are disappointed we have not been able to come to an agreement on a new contract with the union,” said Ryan Whitlock, Director Human Resources. “We have a complete contingency plan in place and our management employees will make every effort to minimize any inconveniences to our customers.”
The union employees include technicians, customer service representatives, repair, warehouse and facilities employees.
“The company has made specific demands of what they wanted met. We are stiking on basis of unfair labor practices,” said Brad Beisner, business representative with IBEW Local 702, based in West Frankfort.
Beisner said that the strike will continue “as long as necessary for the company to be made aware of what it takes to satisfy the workers.”
“Talks are scheduled to resume Monday and the company is not willing to meet until its unreasonable demands are met,” Beisner said.
There have been eight negotiating sessions held since the contract with the union expired on November 15. A federal mediator has been utilized to faciliate the negotions.