By SHERI GASSAWAY
Jackson, MO – IBEW Local 1439 has reached a tentative agreement with Liberty Utilities here that includes a 40-percent wage increase over six years for 42 gas worker employees.
“The six-year package finally brings them in wage parity with gas workers on the west side of the state,” said Local 1439 Business Manager Jeremy Pour. “One member called the new contract ‘life-changing.’”
Liberty Utilities acquired Joplin-based Empire District Electric Company, an investor-owned, regulated utility headquartered in Joplin, Mo., providing electric, natural gas and water, in 2017.
Pour said at the time of the merger, Empire gas workers on the west side of the state were being paid more than those who worked on the east side of Missouri.
In May 2017, he said, Local 1439 was able to negotiate a contract with Liberty in Jackson that included an 18 percent wage increase over three years for gas workers to bring them more in line with what employees were making at Liberty locations south of Kansas City.
In addition to the wage increase that’s included in the tentative new contract, Pour said, members will also now be able to use employee sick leave to care for ailing family members.
The negotiating team consisted of Pour, Business Representative Billy Howle and shop stewards Jason Corrick, Michael Elder, Steven Ellis, Jason Montgomery and Tim Williams.
Members will vote on the agreement in coming weeks. If approved the new contract will go into effect in June 1.