FirstEnergy turns on supporters

FirstEnergy Solutions got its $150 million a year bailout from the state of Ohio and then proceeded to declare war on the unions that represent workers in two of its nuclear power plants.

The company’s attempt to cancel its contracts with the unions at Perry and Beaver Valley nuclear generating stations smack of opportunism and bad faith. Perry is near Cleveland. Beaver Valley is in Pennsylvania.

The General Assembly’s vote to save good-paying jobs at Ohio’s two nuclear plants — Perry and Davis-Besse — earned some Democratic backing, enough to push it over the edge. Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, near Oak Harbor, was not included in FirstEnergy Solutions’ legal filing.

To some it may be a surprise that FirstEnergy Solutions is repaying that Democratic and labor support by going after the unions in two of its facilities.

One leading Democrat who didn’t fall for the bailout baloney, state Rep. David Leland, (D., Columbus), questioned whether the bill would have passed if the company’s desire to end its labor agreements had been known.

“It was all untrue,” Mr. Leland said of the company’s contention that it wanted to protect those jobs. “They waited until after the billion-dollar bailout occurred until we found about it.”

Supporters of the FirstEnergy bailout say the company’s attack on its employee unions is all part of the dance that companies in bankruptcy go through. Nothing to see here.

State Rep. Lisa Sobecki, a Toledo Democrat who supported the bill because some of Davis-Besse’s trade union workers live in her district, said that the unions are taking the action in stride and expect the company to negotiate a new agreement in good faith.

She said she didn’t know why Davis-Besse was excluded and denied that it was because of her support of the bill, noting that Democrats in the vicinity of Perry nuclear power plant east of Cleveland also voted for the measure.

The law that now has Toledo rate-payers keeping in business two aging nuclear power plants imposes a fee of 85 cents on residential electricity customers in Ohio from 2021 through 2027.

Specifically on the chopping block for FirstEnergy Solutions are the pensions promised to workers. The unions want the pension commitments to be transferred to the new entity as part of FirstEnergy’s bankruptcy. The new entity is FirstEnergy Solutions.

FirstEnergy Solutions says it can’t keep up the benefits that FirstEnergy provides.

Now it tells us.

Read the original Toledo Blade editorial here.