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Ohio Electrical Co. Cuts 485 Jobs

May 27, 1998

CLEVELAND (AP) _ FirstEnergy Corp. fired 485 employees Wednesday, most of them blue-collar workers, prompting union officials to warn northeast Ohio residents their electrical service may worsen.

``Buy a generator,″ advised David Kotecki, president of Local 270 of the Utility Workers of America.

But a spokesman for Akron-based FirstEnergy, the product of a merger last year between Ohio Edison Co. and Centerior Energy Corp., said the layoffs will help reduce residential electricity rates and won’t hurt service.

The laid-off employees all work for The Illuminating Co., a FirstEnergy subsidiary, in the Cleveland area, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and eastern Lorain counties.

The employees include field workers _ meter readers, electrical line mechanics and service installers _ as well as maintenance and transportation workers at several plants, including the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.

The laid-off workers will receive two weeks pay but no other severance package. The layoffs are expected to be completed by June 10.

``I guess feel no different than anyone else who’s worked 17 years with the company and is told 10 days from now I won’t have a job,″ said Don Robinson, who installs electrical service at commercial sites such as malls and factories. ``I got a wife, children, mother, father, grandparents, home, bills _ I got the whole shebang.″

Staffing now will be comparable with other FirstEnergy subsidiaries and will eventually save about $27 million annually. That will help The Illuminating Co. stick to a plan to reduce residential electrical rates 20 percent by the year 2006.

The Illuminating Co. serves about 750,000 people in northeast Ohio, while FirstEnergy serves a total of 2.2 million customers in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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