(WIVB) — National Fuel Gas workers in parts of New York and Pennsylvania could be going on strike after the recent expiration of their contract.

Workers in southwest New York and northwest Pennsylvania are represented by IBEW Local 2154. The union says negotiations for a new contract recently came to an abrupt end after they could not come to an agreement with National Fuel Gas about wages and terms of employment.

According to Local 2154, National Fuel presented a “final offer,” which was overwhelmingly rejected by the union.

The previous contract, which was ratified four years ago, expired on April 13.

The union is fighting for better pay, saying that employees in the mentioned regions make less than those in regions around them.

“Under the terms National Fuel Gas has recently decided to impose, wages for most employees in the regions of Northwest Pennsylvania and Southwest New York State will be approximately twenty percent lower than the wages National Fuel Gas pays to workers in neighboring regions,” Local 2154 says.

The other point the two sides could not agree on relates to employees being terminated.

“IBEW Local 2154 wants its members to have protection from being subject to termination without
just cause,” the union says. “Currently, the terms National Fuel Gas is imposing on its employees in Northwest Pennsylvania and Southwest New York State eliminates the due process, union representation, and need to present just cause, which employees in neighboring regions are given in disciplinary matters.”

Local 2154 Business Manager Heather Owczarzak says “Pennsylvania contract employees are not
accepting being treated as second class employees any longer.”

National Fuel Gas has released a statement on the negotiations:

“On April 8, 2022, the Pennsylvania IBEW Local 2154P/PS voted not to ratify National Fuel’s best and final contract offer. The Company and the Union met again on April 11 and did not come to an agreement and are at impasse.

The previous contract expired as of midnight April 12, 2022, and accordingly, following a number of negotiating sessions preceding that date, the Company has implemented its best and final offer effective yesterday, April 13, which includes benefits and wage increases effective April 10, 2022. National Fuel values its workforce and its objective is to provide a fair and equitable contract with competitive wages and benefits to all our employees.

The Company has bargained in good faith with union leadership (and will continue to bargain in good faith) and has engaged in no activities that interfere with the employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. 

National Fuel will continue safe and reliable operations, including repairs and responding to service calls and emergencies.”

National Fuel Gas

A strike vote has been put in place, and will go until April 29 at 5 p.m. A decision on whether or not to strike will be made after that.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.