Dominion Power workers in Chuckatuck walking picket line

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002

As the strike at Dominion Virginia Power eased into its fourth day on Monday, more than a dozen union members picketed outside the company’s Chuckatuck district office throughout the work day.

Occasional honks came from drivers passing the Godwin Boulevard office building, lending support to the more than 1,000 striking linemen, high-voltage electricians and other workers in Hampton Roads.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 50, which represents more than 3,700 workers in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia, initiated the work stoppage at noon Friday. That action came after the union rejected the company’s last labor contract offer on Thursday.

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Workers on the picket line – most who would only talk on the condition of anonymity – said they were prepared to strike for as long as it takes to have the contract issues resolved.

&uot;Forever, if we have to. We’ll stay out here as long as it takes,&uot; said Greg Medeia, one of the few workers willing to be named.&uot;

Retirement benefits are the primary source of contention between management and the union, several employees said.

&uot;This is not about money, &uot; said one man. &uot;We’re talking about our benefits.&uot;

Brian Melchor, recording secretary of the union said the organization is ready to go back to the table with management.

&uot;We are willing to keep negotiating in good faith,&uot; Melchor said. &uot;We’re ready to talk.

&uot;Right now, these men work through snow storms and hurricanes,&uot; he continued. They should be able to look forward to decent living when retire&uot;

The company has contingency plans in place and is ready to keep its customers’ lights on, said Edgar M. Roach Jr., president and chief executive officer of Dominion Virginia Power.

Nonetheless, Melchor said, the strike will have to have some impact have service occasionally.

&uot;With fewer people, there won’t be as quick a response time to power outages.&uot;