PORT HURON, Mich., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Negotiations between
representatives of SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY and Local 16201 of the United
Steelworkers Union recently reached an impasse over economic issues, resulting
in a work stoppage today by 42 union-represented employees in the Company's
Holland, Niles and Three Rivers service areas in southwestern Michigan.
SEMCO ENERGY wishes to assure customers that the work stoppage will not
adversely affect the Company's ability to provide safe and reliable natural
gas service. The Company has sufficient qualified personnel to continue the
operation of its natural gas distribution system and address any emergency
situations that might arise. In an emergency, customers should contact the
Company at 1-888-GAS-1-GAS (1-888-427-1427). For routine customer service
inquires, customers may continue to contact the Company at 1-800-624-2019.
Lance Smotherman, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and
Administration, said, "These employees' wage rates have been the highest of
all of the Company's bargaining units. Under the Company's last offer, they
would remain the highest. The offer provides for a 10 percent wage increase
over three years. We have also proposed that the employees continue to be
covered, as they have been for many years, under the same benefit plans as the
Company's salaried, management, and non-union workforce. The Union's
insistence that it have the right to block changes to the plans during the
term of the contract, a right it has never had, continues to be a sticking
point in the negotiations."
George A. Schreiber, Jr., Company President and Chief Executive Officer,
said, "We are disappointed that our offer has been rejected, especially in the
face of the plant closings and layoffs being experienced by so many in
"It is also important to mention that the Company has a responsibility to
customers. Our customers are struggling with uncertainties surrounding
Michigan's economic situation. They will ultimately pay for these wage and
benefit costs. We are striving to resolve this situation as expeditiously as
possible while endeavoring to ensure that our distribution system is operated
safely and that we have balanced the needs of our customers and employees. We
want to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this
SEMCO ENERGY, Inc. distributes natural gas to more than 400,000 customers
combined in Michigan, as SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY, and in Alaska, as ENSTAR
Natural Gas Company. It also owns and operates businesses involved in propane
distribution, intrastate pipelines and natural gas storage in various regions
of the United States.
SOURCE SEMCO ENERGY, Inc.
CONTACT: Timothy Lubbers, Director of Marketing & Corporate
Communications of SEMCO ENERGY, Inc., +1-810-887-4208