CMP Contract Vote Postponed While Crews Work to Restore Power

February 26, 2010 - Around 650 IBEW members at Central Maine Power will have to wait a few more days to vote on a new contract offer. The vote originally scheduled for Friday, February 26 was postponed for a few days while CMP crews kept busy fixing down power lines.

“Because of the storm, we will have members that will be deployed to various work locations,” said Bill Dunn, IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager. “Because of that, we have rescheduled the ratification vote for a new contract until next Tuesday, March 2.”

UPDATE: Due to ongoing restoration work, the vote has been rescheduled again to Tuesday, March 9.

CMP line crews were out in force Friday morning working to restore power to as many as 130,000 homes and business left in the dark by Thursday’s powerful storm. Winds greater than 60 m.p.h. in a number of communities caused widespread power outages throughout the CMP service area. In neighboring New Hampshire, roughly one third of the state or about 330,000 residents and businesses were without power, and Gov. John Lynch declared a state of emergency.

Negotiations Begin at PSNH

February 24, 2010 - Negotiations with Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) formally began today. Following weeks of preparation, the Union Negotiating team, consisting of members from both IBEW Local 1837 and Steelworkers Local 8938, sat down across the table for opening statements and an initial exchange of proposals.

Due to the inclement weather and the nature of our work keeping the power on during such events there were some empty seats on both sides of the table and participants in jobs related to power restoration returned to the field immediately following the meeting.

The parties have set a full schedule of dates running through May of this year. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire May 31, 2010.

IBEW 1837 Reaches Tentative Agreement for New Contract at CMP

February 22, 2010 - The Union Negotiating Team at Central Maine Power has reached a tentative agreement for a contract for 650 workers at Maine’s largest utility. Prior to negotiations on Thursday, February 15, it had been nearly six months since the last bargaining session between the parties. During that time, three other Iberdrola USA companies settled contracts with their respective unions.

Those contracts were better deals than CMP had offered to their workers represented by IBEW Local 1837. For their employees in Maine, the Company was willing to meet a few of the inequities between the contracts by offering the same annual across the board wage increases in each year of the contract and the same company match on the 401(k) plan for new hires in lieu of a defined benefit retirement plan. However, CMP was unwilling to move on their controversial demand to cap the post-retirement medical coverage benefit.

WGME-TV and Sinclair Broadcasting Force Pay Cuts on IBEW 1837 Members

February 18, 2010 - IBEW members at WGME-TV, channel 13 in Portland have had their pay cut as much as 10% as Sinclair Broadcast Group began implementing part of their last contract offer without the agreement of the workers and their Union. As the union’s Negotiating Team brought new proposals to the bargaining table in hope of reaching a contract agreement with the Company, WGME 13 and Sinclair pulled the plug on the talks by declaring the sides were deadlocked – even as they thanked IBEW for all the movement they were making.

“We’re disappointed by Sinclair’s decision to do this to their workers at WGME 13,” said IBEW 1837 Business Manager Cynthia Phinney. “These folks give their all in what are often stressful jobs. By bringing news and public affairs to the local community, they provide an important public service. They deserve to be treated better than this.”

Maine PUC Approves AMI System at CMP; 141 Jobs Will Be Lost – Many IBEW 1837 Members

February 1, 2010 - The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will be issuing an order for Central Maine Power Company to move forward with their Smart Grid Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) initiative. The PUC held deliberations on the AMI case on February 1, and all three commissioners agreed that CMP had done a good job at working toward and achieving 50% of the funding for their proposed system through a federal stimulus grant. The commissioners believe that the system will produce benefits for customers that will outweigh the costs. The installation of so-called “smart meters” will lead to steep job cuts at CMP.

The Commissioners acknowledged that the installation of the system will create a long road for the affected employees. They said they appreciated the testimony from the public hearing on January 20 and that the testimony raised several concerns regarding the effects of the system on employees. Commissioner Cashman strongly urged that CMP negotiate with the Union over those effects. Commissioner Vafiades and Chairperson Reishus agreed that CMP should give fair treatment to the employees and also have a reporting requirement to submit a workforce reduction plan to the Commission prior to any plan taking place. Assistant Business Manager Bill Dunn scheduled negotiations with CMP on February 19 to discuss the impact on employees.