Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Early Retirements at CMP Impact IBEW Local 1837
January 18, 2011 - An attractive package of incentives at Central Maine Power Company has led to the early retirement from the Company of four Chief Stewards and the Treasurer of IBEW Local 1837. Chief Stewards Dale Blethen, Rodney Curtis, Gilbert Guevin, Barry Ripley and Treasurer Donald Leighton retired from CMP in January.
“I could go on and on about what these brothers have done for Local 1837,” said Assistant Business Manager Bill Dunn. “They have been great activists for us and tireless fighters for the union movement. It will be a big hole to fill.”
When CMP received approval from the Public Utilities Commission to install so-called “Smart Meters” for its 600,000 customers, it meant that more than 100 members of IBEW Local 1837 would be affected. In order to help minimize the number of layoffs and open up other jobs at the Company, CMP and IBEW negotiated the Voluntary Early Retirement Program, or VERP. A total of 82 members took the VERP out of just over 700 IBEW members at CMP.
In addition to his role as Chief Steward, Dale Blethen was representing Unit 9, Waterville on the Local’s E-Board at the time of his retirement, and agreed to continue in that capacity until a successor is elected this spring. A Service Worker out of Fairfield, Brother Blethen has been a member of our Local since 1974.
Rodney Curtis was Chief Steward in the so-called “CMP 47” bargaining unit, a group of technical workers that organized in 2005. A CADD Technician in Technical Support Services, Brother Curtis had been serving as Chair of Unit 8, Augusta, and is helping to negotiate a new contract for his bargaining unit even though he has retired from the Company. Brother Curtis also had many years of previous Union service in another bargaining unit at Local 1837.
Lead Lineworker Gilbert Guevin worked out of Portland and served as a Chief Steward there as well. Brother Guevin joined the Union in 1972 and was Vice Chair of Unit 6, Portland, at the time of his retirement.
Barry Ripley was a Chief Steward in Lewiston, where he worked for CMP as a Field Planner. Brother Ripley, an IBEW member since 1981, also served the Brotherhood as Chair of Unit 7, Lewiston.
Another Field Planner from Lewiston, Donald Leighton, has served our Union as a Steward and, notably, as IBEW Local 1837 Treasurer. Brother Leighton first became a member in 1976 and will remain Treasurer until a successor is found.
“All five of these Brothers showed tremendous leadership and selfless dedication to our Local, and for that we should all be extremely appreciative” said Business Manager Cynthia Phinney.
“I’d also like to extend my appreciation to the dozens of other recent retirees at CMP and our other represented companies,” Sister Phinney continued. “Their support and participation has been invaluable, and I hope that they will continue to stay involved in the labor movement even as they enjoy their retirement. We really want them, and with working people under fire in both Maine and New Hampshire, we really need them.”