CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nearly three years ago the union that represents workers at West Virginia American Water Company filed a grievance saying that proposed layoffs would compromise the company's ability to provide safe water to its customers.
West Virginia American announced that it would lay off 31 employees on May 19, 2011.
Six days later, the Utility Workers Union of America and Local 537 filed a grievance with the state Public Service Commission, saying that insufficient staffing was an issue at the company.
"The Union asserted that this significant drop in employee headcount represents a risk to the ability of WVAWC to provide safe and adequate water to its customers," the order filed by the PSC said.
It also said that West Virginia American Water "is improperly reducing its staff by 31 employees thereby jeopardizing its ability to provide safe and adequate water service to its customers. The Union asserted that the reduced headcount is insufficient to properly existing run water operations."
"We've been saying this for the last few years. They have cut down on man power," Greg Lanham, vice president of Local 537, said Sunday. "They have cut back on flushing the system and haven't been doing all the maintenance."
Lanham has worked in the industry for roughly 30 years. He does not work at West Virginia American's treatment plant in Charleston but at a distribution center in Milton.
"If you don't do the maintenance on the system it will eventually break down," he said. "They were just putting Band Aids on stuff and not replacing it."