Pepco strike possible if contract proposal is rejected

(Photo: Afagen/flickr)

(AP, ABC7) - Wednesday afternoon, the D.C. Public Service Commission has voted to approve Pepco's request for a rate increase but only a portion of it.

Pepco's initial request would have raised an average customer's monthly bill by $5.20. The rate hike that was approved will instead increase an average bill by about $2.60 a month.

Meanwhile, Union workers at Pepco are also scheduled to vote Wednesday on a contract proposal.{ }The Washington Post reports the two sides haven't been able to agree on a contract despite help from a mediator.

The workers could go on strike if they reject the deal, or Pepco could lock them out.

It would be the first strike at Pepco since 1985, when union members walked out for five days.

Pepco spokeswoman Myra Oppel says the lockout "is not something we are considering."

But she said the company can nonetheless summon more than 400 contractors if necessary.

The main sticking point appears to be a proposed change to the workers' health and welfare plans.

Pepco says the rate increase is necessary to rebuild an old and crumbling infrastructure.