PITTSBURGH, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A federal judge upheld an arbitrator's award ordering Equitable Resources (NYSE: EQT) to honor its contract with members of the United Steelworkers (USW) yesterday. The decision is the latest chapter in a lengthy legal battle between Equitable Resources and the union. The battle started earlier this year when Equitable Resources merged its subsidiary, Kentucky West Virginia Gas, into two other segments.
The company argued that by restructuring its business and folding the subsidiary into the two larger business segments it invalidated the workers contract. Equitable further argued that its actions destroyed the workers' bargaining unit and eliminated the collective bargaining relationship between USW Local 8-512 and the company.
The two sides entered binding arbitration in July to determine whether or not the company was required to honor its contract with the union. The arbitrator, Jeffrey Jacobs, issued a 35-page decision rebutting the company's arguments and ordering the company to continue to honor the contract with the USW. Equitable quickly filed a motion in federal court to vacate the arbitrator's decision. Oral hearings on the issue were held on September 23, at which time Amul Thapar, a federal judge in the eastern district of Kentucky, issued a bench decision siding with the union and ordering the company to honor its contract with its workers.
Equitable Resources has stated that it plans to appeal the judge's decision, but union workers have vowed to continue and expand their fight.
"This ruling upholds our right to our union and our right to our contract," said Ralph Hood, President of USW Local 8-512. "We are not going to stand back and let this company take away the contract we fought so hard to win and the union we worked so hard to build."
Meanwhile, the collective bargaining agreement between USW Local 12050 and Equitable covering just fewer than 200 workers in southwestern Pennsylvania expired on September 24, meaning that a work stoppage could happen there at any time. Members of Local 12050 are fighting to bring their working standards in line with other natural gas workers in the region.
For more information, contact Howard Scott at 412-580-6980
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)