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In ‘One Of The Largest Organizing Victories In The South’ In Recent Years, Atlanta, Georgia-Based AGL Employees Ratify Contract, Become ‘Full’ IBEW Members

Published Sunday, July 12, 2020
by IBEW News
In ‘One Of The Largest Organizing Victories In The South’ In Recent Years, Atlanta, Georgia-Based AGL Employees Ratify Contract, Become ‘Full’ IBEW Members

(ATLANTA, GEORGIA) - One of the largest Organizing victories in the South in recent years reached a crucial milestone when the Members of Atlanta International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1997 voted overwhelmingly to approve their first contract with Atlanta Gas Light.

The final votes were cast May 1st after failed Organizing Drives in 2006 and 2012, a change of ownership in 2015 when Southern Company purchased AGL and the ultimately successful Organizing Drive in 2018.

Negotiations were often contentious, said IBEW Utility Director Donnie Colston, who gave all the credit to the seven-Member Negotiating Committee and their support team, IBEW International Representatives Chris Harris and Anna Jerry.

"There are a ‘few milestones in the creation of a Union.’  Collecting cards.  Calling ‘and then winning’ the election.  Starting negotiations ‘and reaching an agreement on that first’ contract. ‘Each is a victory, but it is victory on the way,’" Colston said.

"The ‘true finish line is getting that first contract ratified by the Membership and hammered in stone.’  ‘I know the work doesn't end there, but for the term of that agreement, it is a truth that cannot be ignored, a truth with the power to change lives,’" Colston said.

The deal covers everything from the company-wide pay scale and a promise that Employees will actually advance through the pay scale, to training, disciplinary procedures and rare language that gives Local 1997 right of refusal for any work and any overtime that would go to contractors.

"This is an ‘excellent first contract and they would not have gotten there without the steadfast unity of the Membership,’" Colston said. "They ‘earned this in the negotiating room and on the job.’"

Negotiations began in January 2019 and Negotiators met more than 60 times, Jerry said.

"We thought it would be a couple of months," IBEW Local 1997 Business Manager Steve Galloway said. "We ‘thought we could take language from other Southern Company-IBEW contracts and put something together, but it wasn't that way.’"

By far the highest priority, Galloway said, was the pay scale.

AGL's overall pay scale was lower than nearby Unionized utilities.

That wasn't too much of a surprise.

What was a surprise was how few of the Members of the Bargaining Unit were making the top of the scale.

To Continue Reading This Labor News Story, Go To: http://www.ibew.org/media-center/Articles/20Daily/2007/200707_AGL

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