No raises or cuts set at Lenoir City Utilities

By Hugh G. Willett
Workers at Lenoir City Utilities Board won't see any cutbacks this year, but they won't be getting any raises either, according to union representatives and utility management.

Expiration of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers contract with LCUB on March 15, coupled with the LCUB board's decision to go into executive session to discuss labor issues with a lawyer last week, fueled concern among LCUB employees that labor contract negotiations could run into trouble.

"We agreed to extend the contract for one year until March 15, 2012," said Shannon Littleton LCUB general manager.

The contract's extension means no layoffs but raises are not expected either, Littleton said.

"It works both ways," he said.

George Bove, business manager at the IBEW Local 760 in Knoxville described the agreement as a "one-year wage and benefit freeze."

Bove said that given the national recession and many businesses are cutting back, the agreement was satisfactory.

"We're very happy with the deal," Bove said, noting that the IBEW has a 40-year relationship with LCUB. "We've always worked well together."

Fred Nelson, retired LCUB general manager and a member of the union for 40 years, said it was not unusual for the IBEW to agree on a wage freeze if economic conditions warrant it.

"In 2007, nobody got any raises," Nelson said. "We had a lot of expenses putting in new substations about that time."

Nelson said the union and LCUB management have a history of working well together, he added.