Workers express frustration with utility company’s tactics –
By Patricia Beech –
Dozens of soon-to-be-displaced employees from Adams County’s Stuart and Killen Power Stations attended a Job Fair on Wednesday, Mar. 7 at the DP&L Transition Center in Manchester.
The event, which was sponsored by Ohio Means Jobs, offered re-employment and training service opportunities to the utility company workers.
Debora Plymail, Director of Ohio Means Jobs in Adams County, said “we’re trying to help these workers get a head start and develop transition plans for when the layoff comes so they will have the skills they need to re-enter the job market.”
While the workers explored their future employment options, many also expressed frustration with DP&L – a company they say they were once proud to work for, that now seems intent on keeping them in a state of wait-and-see-what-happens-next.
“I thought I’d be with the company until I retired,” said Trey Gallenstein, a Maysville resident who worked at the J.M. Stuart Plant for ten years.
He says he was shocked when DP&L announced they would be closing the two coal-fired power plants.
“We were all kind of uneasy when AES bought the company in 2010, but nothing happened then, and when we found out in Sept. 2016 that they weren’t even going to tell us, we were all hard hit.”
Gallenstein says he’d like to see the company be more forthright with the employees.
“I think they could definitely be more open with the information here at the end,” he says. “They still haven’t told us the end date, or if they’re going to offer us a compensation package, or whether they’re going to pay insurance through the rest of the year after they close down in June.”
Manchester resident John Arnett is a Stuart Station operator, and Vice President of the Local 175 Utility Workers Union.
He says his “biggest concern isn’t really the job.”
“I’ll make a living doing something, I’d even take a pay cut, but I’m concerned about how this is going to effect the quality of the schools and the community.”
The father of two, ages 7 and 10, says he worries whether he’s doing his children a disservice by staying in the community.
“We really don’t know what’s going to happen yet, but there are a lot of rumors about cuts at the school, and what’s going to happen with the community,” he says. “I think it’s going to be a trickle-down effect that will impact the whole community.”
Gallenstein says he’s choosing to be optimistic and believe the company will do the right thing for its employees, but admits, ““It wouldn’t surprise me if they just walk away, it’s clear they’ve done that before. It’s nothing new to them, I think AES had an agenda when they bought the place in 2010 and I think right now they’re fulfillling that agenda.”
Arnett said he would “like for DP&L to explain why won’t they sell the plants to the companies who are trying to buy them to continue operating them”.
“It’s just my opinion,” he says. “I think that they entered into an agreement with the other utility companies -AEP and Dynegy – that they would shut the plants down and not operate them anymore, if they would support a rate hike, which would make their plants worth more money. I believe that to be the truth, but that’s not the answer they’re giving us.”
Arnett said the Union was approached by individuals who were trying to buy the Killen Station to continue operations there.
“They were trying to make offers to buy and the company was blowing them off, while claiming no one wanted to buy.”
Arnett, a Marine veteran, says he finds the entire situation disheartening.
“How do you negotiate with someone who’s unreasonable and dishonest?” he asks. “At one time, this was the place to work, it was a great company, but now, it makes employees ask, do I really want to work for a company that I don’t believe is being honest with its employees?”