Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

December 10, 2012

Consolidated workers strike over pension plan

EFFINGHAM — Striking Consolidated Communications telephone company employees began picketing Friday to protest what a union representative billed as “unfair labor practices.”

    Consolidated employees picketed at two Effingham locations for most of the day Friday. The larger group carried signs on Ford Avenue north of the Menards store for most of the day before joining a smaller group in front of the Consolidated office on South Fifth Street for the rest of the afternoon.

    Statewide, 188 members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 702 began striking Friday at a number of locations, including Effingham, Shelbyville, Mattoon, Charleston, Litchfield and Hillsboro. Striking workers include field service technicians, operators, material control specialists and switching technicians.

    Employees had been working without a contract since Nov. 15.

    Local 702 business representative Brad Beisner said Friday that the strike began at 10 p.m. Thursday after negotiations broke down earlier that day.

    Beisner, who is based in West Frankfort, said the company made “unreasonable demands” that led to talks breaking down.

    “They weren’t going to discuss the remaining issues on the table unless we met their demands,” he said.

    While Beisner declined to discuss details of the negotiations, he said the biggest sticking point was what he termed “unnecessary drastic cuts” to the employee pension plan.

    But Consolidated senior vice president Steve Shirar said the company’s proposal to move from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” pension plan was a necessary step to secure the company’s ability to maintain any kind of pension plan.

    “We’re not taking anybody’s pension,” Shirar said. “But people are working longer and living longer than they used to.

    “The defined benefit has been dependent on stock markets,” he added. “Because those markets have been so bad, the company has had to contribute to these pensions at a high level.

    Shirar said the company’s proposal would freeze current pension earnings at their current level. The company would set aside 4 percent of each employee’s pay toward any future pension.

    Shirar said the company’s proposal includes “generous” wage increases, employee bonuses if the contract is ratified by Dec. 14, and a promise to bring highly-skilled work to Illinois.

    Beisner said the union remains willing to negotiate at any time. He said, however, that the company cancelled a scheduled Monday morning negotiating session.

    No further talks are set. But Consolidated’s Shirar said the sooner the two sides can get together, the better off all will be.

    “Both sides need to take sides and assess where they are at,” he said. “Strikes are not good for anybody.

    “We hope these issues can be resolved and people can get back to work.”

    In the meantime, Shirar said, management personnel are doing the jobs temporarily vacated by union personnel. He does not anticipate any reduction of company services.

    Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.


Text Only
Local News
  • 8-22 prairie chicken.jpg Saving the prairie chicken: Coordinator goes out on limb for bird

    After one year of work, Bob Gillespie, a natural resources coordinator with the Illinois Natural History Survey, said the efforts to reintroduce the highly endangered prairie chicken back to Illinois is just beginning.

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hot spots • Country Cookin, Austin Kirk Benefit — 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at Pla-More Danceland, Pana. $7 admission. 217-823-5535 or 618-283-1314.• KYLNTYME — 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, at Pla-More Danceland, Pana. $5 admission. 217-823-5535 or 61

    August 22, 2014

  • 8-22 sports complex pic 1 A win for sports complex After months of planning and fundraising, Effingham Park District officials finally solidified plans for the Richard E. Workman Sports Complex.The path to having a sports complex in Effingham actually began decades ago, but it was October of last yea

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-22 White White Doris White of Effingham will celebrate her 90th birthday on Wednesday, Aug. 27.Mrs. White was born Aug. 27, 1924, the daughter of Charles and E. Gertrude Leturno. She married Harold E. White on May 16, 1946.She has three children, Connie (William “B

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ham City Jam Ham City Jam will kick off Saturday, Aug. 30 at the Effingham Skate Park.Free skate will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with competition beginning at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $10.

    August 22, 2014

  • Giesler Giesler Ruby Giesler of rural Shumway will celebrate her 90th birthday Monday, Aug. 25.Mrs. Giesler was born Aug. 25, 1924, southwest of Montrose, the daughter of Edwin and Cora (Hetzer) Miller. She married Harold W. Giesler on June 30, 1951.She has three ch

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prayer Vigil for Life celebrated at St. Mary's St. Mary’s parish, Shumway, hosted the August Prayer Vigil for Life. The Rev. Ron Hilt celebrated the Mass, assisted by Donna Davis, Lector; Thomas Davis, Altar Sewer; Irene Koester, Pianist. Prior to Mass, Mrs. Jack Koester led all present in prayin

    August 22, 2014

  • 8-22 Stewardson Stewardson Lions Club Homecoming The 58th Annual Stewardson Lions Club Homecoming is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22 and 23.Stage entertainment tonight will feature Tress and the Mixers from 6 to 8 p.m. and Trouble & Company from 8 to 10 p.m.Tress and the Mixers was forme

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Church Briefs Centenary UMCCentenary United Methodist Church, Effingham, will host the following activities:• Saturday, Aug. 23: Eagle’s Wings Quartet in concert, 5:45 p.m.• Sunday, Aug. 24: Lavender Ridge Worship, 2 p.m.• Monday, Aug. 25: Quilters, 9 a.m.• Tuesda

    August 22, 2014

  • Shumway Firefighters BASH SHUMWAY—The 3rd Annual Shumway Firefighters BASH hosted by the Shumway Volunteer Firefighters is set for Saturday, Aug. 23, at Lake Sara Pearson Building, 15170 N. Beach Road.Food will be provided at 4 p.m. and will last until is runs out. Carry-outs

    August 22, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.