September 5, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Jackson, Mich. – The Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) has negotiated 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 plan, 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. The training will expand 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."
"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."
Consumers Energy is 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.