JACKSON, Mich., Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) has announced a new five-year labor agreement with Consumers Energy under which the union will assume a leading role in training employees at Michigan's largest electric and gas utility.
Under the agreement, union-led training will expand to cover skills development for employees working in natural gas and electric service, power generation and meter reading. Employees participating in the initial wave of training will include more than 100 entry-level workers hired to support Consumers Energy's enhanced gas system upgrade and replacement program. The training will expand to other positions over the next five years.
"We're re-creating the model for how unions and management work together to develop and train employees, taking a much different approach than you'll see at most utilities," said Steve VanSlooten, executive vice president of the UWUA. "Our goal through this partnership is to set the standard of excellence for training utility employees so they have the skills necessary to provide the best possible service to customers."
Pat Dillon, president of the Michigan State Utility Workers Council, said the agreement reflects the principles of Labor Day – leveraging the experience, energy and commitment of the union to train and deploy the most highly skilled and safest workers in the industry.
"This agreement builds on the strong partnership we have had with Consumers Energy to improve the skill level of employees by shifting significant new responsibilities for training to the union," Dillon said.
"This is a game changer in how we train our employees," said Dan Malone, Senior Vice President of Distribution and Customer Operations for Consumers Energy. "It's a precedent-setting approach to workforce development under which our union and our company's management will work together to ensure our organized employees are prepared to provide safe, affordable and reliable service to Consumers Energy's three million customers in Michigan well into the future."
"By providing the best environment for learning and skills training for employees, the union will significantly strengthen our commitment to provide excellent and safe service to customers," Malone said.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
SOURCE Consumers Energy