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      IBEW union workers strike against Alger Delta Electric

      The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876 are on strike against Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Company. The union workers are asking for a pay increase as well as increased safety practices.

      The last time union members agreed to a contract with Alger Delta Electric was June 15, 2010. Since then, Alger Delta and their union employees havenâ??t been able to come to an agreement.

      â??The linemen that keep the lights on in town and the clerical workers that make sure the bills go out and take of the customers have been trying to bargain a contract for two and a half years,â?? said union attorney Ted Iorio.

      Alger Delta officials are surprised the union members are striking. They said during recent negotiations the co-op presented the union with two proposals. One of them included a linemen salary increase of 2%. They currently make over $62,000 a year plus benefits and overtime.

      â??We felt they were very good and very generous, especially in todayâ??s economy and the economy here in the U.P. and other things that we deal with,â?? said Alger Delta CEO Tom Harrell. â??So, this is a little bit of a surprise that the employees are taking this tact.â??

      Another concern is safety involving apprentices. Alger Delta officials said have occasionally sent them out on small jobs. The union said this is a safety concern.

      â??Weâ??re out at all hours of the night putting these line up through storm conditions, adverse weather, everything else and you want to send one essentially still unqualified individual by himself,â?? said IBEW business manager Hank Matulewicz. â??Thatâ??s unheard of in the industry.â??

      Both Alger Delta Electric and IBEW union workers are hoping to come to an agreement as soon as possible so they can get back to serving our community.