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Power Company, Workers Deadlock Over On-Call Time

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October nor'easter utility plea (Courtesy William Kuntz)

October nor’easter utility plea (Courtesy William Kuntz)

By STEPHEN SINGER, AP Business Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Contract negotiations between Connecticut Light & Power and its workers have deadlocked in a dispute the union blames on the utility trying to avoid being caught short in a major storm.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is organizing informational picket lines Tuesday to protest what it says is pressure to work overtime when a storm looms. Union representative John Fernandes says workers are worn out by being on call for any threat of bad weather.

Caroline Pretyman, a spokeswoman for parent company Northeast Utilities, says staffing is in line with other leading utilities. She says the union workers’ refusal to pay more for health care is an obstacle to a contract.

The utility was harshly criticized and faces possible penalties for its handling of two major storms in 2011.

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