Bangor Hydro System Operators Win IBEW Union Vote 8 – 0

March 29, 2012 – In a secret ballot election last night administered by the National Labor Relations Board in Bangor, the System Operators at Bangor Hydro Electric voted 8 – 0 to be represented by IBEW Local 1837 for collective bargaining. These highly-skilled workers are often referred to as “Dispatchers.”

During the union organizing campaign initiated by the System Operators themselves, issues were raised about fairness and unpaid overtime, but the desire to have the ability to negotiate improvements for their future was a primary motivation. In spite of the Company’s efforts to persuade them to vote against the Union, the System Operators stuck together, producing the lopsided vote in favor of organizing.

 “Everybody’s relieved and feels great about it,” said System Operator Gregg Wallace. “We’re happy to move forward.”

IBEW Local 1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers was joined after the vote by Brother Wallace and Chief Steward Bob Economy from Bangor Hydro as he commended the workers for their decision to unionize.

“On behalf of all of our members at Bangor Hydro and our other represented Companies throughout Maine and New Hampshire, I’d like to congratulate the System Operators for their unanimous vote in support of their union,” said Brother Rogers. “It’s really a great day for those workers.”

The victory for the workers at Bangor Hydro also impressed Doug Ames from Central Maine Power. Brother Ames helped negotiate the first contract for the CMP Dispatchers back in 2005.

“It is good news, and now the hard work begins,” he said. “The vote showed that the workers were dissatisfied. Now they can sit down together as a group to see what they want to achieve. It’s tough, but they’ll get there.”

“I think that things are going to be better for everybody, all the way around,” Brother Wallace continued. “We’re all pumped, when are we starting?”

 “We appreciate that Bangor Hydro recently took note of the good Union-Company relationship dating back more than 70 years,” Brother Rogers added. “We’re hopeful that we can begin negotiations on the System Operators’ first contract very soon. We’ll work closely with them throughout the process and we’ll have a top-notch, experienced union bargaining team to represent them.”

In addition to the System Operators, there are already about 140 IBEW 1837 members who work at BHE. They include classifications in the Customer Service Center, Electrical, Line and Meter departments. Prior to the System Operators, the Customer Service Center was the most recently organized, having become part of the union in the 1980’s.