PWSA workers reject latest contract offer

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The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and its blue-collar workers will head back the bargaining table after the union rejected a contract offer.

The Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Committee said the proposal was turned down by every group of PWSA workers: operating engineers, plumbers, stationary engineers, drivers and laborers.

It said workers are unhappy with a proposed wage package after the authority board voted eight months ago to pay a management company $150,000 a month.

The committee is certified by the National Labor Relations Board to act as the umbrella organization for blue-collar workers employed by the city and the authority. It represents about 125 authority employees now making between $16.87 and $25.58 per hour.

In a statement, the committee said voting on a contract proposal took place this week and the results were finalized Friday. The committee said workers have not taken a strike vote.

In July, the board voted to bring in Veolia Water North America at a cost of $150,000 a month. The firm, which officials said was needed to improve an agency with personnel and operating problems, also has the potential to earn bonuses for meeting performance objectives.

Without giving details, the committee said workers were disappointed with the wage proposal and were concerned that the authority has decided to spend money on the management firm instead.

Authority spokeswoman Melissa Rubin said, "We are continuing our negotiation with the bargaining unit. We hope that we can find a mutually agreeable contract in the near future."

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