Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Eversource NH Members Narrowly Ratify New 3-Year Deal
June 13, 2017 - Members of IBEW Local #1837 employed by Eversource NH in the Utility Group have narrowly voted to ratify a new, 3-year contract agreement. Although the Union has a policy against publicly disclosing the exact voting tally, IBEW Local #1837 officials described the outcome as “extremely close.”
Voting took place throughout last week at locations throughout New Hampshire and the ballots were counted Friday evening at the IBEW 1837 office in Dover, New Hampshire. The Union Negotiating Team did not offer a formal recommendation to IBEW 1837 members to approve or reject the agreement. While many members expressed satisfaction with the overall package, others were disappointed that some of the Company’s proposals remained in their final offer.
Members of IBEW Local #1837 employed at Eversource NH’s Generation assets are also affected by the ratified agreement. They voted in May of 2015 to extend their contract as the Company was moving ahead with the divestiture and sale of Merrimack Station, Newington Station and Schiller Station fossil fuel plants and their hydropower generating facilities. Those members agreed at that time to accept any general wage increases and benefit changes negotiated by the Utility Group. That divestiture process is now nearing completion.
Both groups of workers are set to receive a 3% wage increase in each of the next three years. Members in the Utility Group will also receive a 60 cents per hour wage revaluation prior to the first increase in effect as of June 4, 2017.
The new contract includes changes in the employee holiday schedule with the removal of the day after Thanksgiving and the addition of the Martin Luther King Day holiday as well as an additional floating holiday under the new agreement. There are also changes in the Company vacation policy.
A new disability plan will be put into effect during the term of the agreement. All new employees will be participating in the disability plan and incumbent members will have the one time option to opt into the new plan, or opt into the grandfathered plan during open enrollment in October 2017.Caps will put in place for the cost of employee health insurance benefits for the next three years.
Another significant change for many of our members is the transition from a straight 8-hour work day to an 8 ½-hour work day with a half-hour unpaid lunch period. The Union negotiated a delay in this Company-proposed change to June 30, 2018, to allow members to make necessary changes in their personal arrangements for childcare and other needs.
There will also be increases in of 50 cents per hours for troubleshooters working the 12 hour rotating shift, stand-by pay, and shift premium pay. The Company will also have the right to establish 12 additional Troubleshooter positions in different locations throughout the state.
For the Utility Group, agreement was reached to create a Wage Review Committee comprised of Union members and management. The committee will review and analyze the wage issues raised by the Union at the bargaining table. Upon recommendation of the committee the contract may be reopened to negotiate a wage revaluation during the next three years.
The Union and the Company also agreed to create joint safety review committees comprised of equal numbers of Union members and System Operations Center (SOC) leadership to review current practices. This includes troubleshooter inclement work practices, refusing required help when requested and “Do Not Go Out” calls between 10:00pm and 5:00am. In addition, a safety review committee comprised of equal number of Union members and Operations Supervision will review and analyze inclement weather line work as well as not supplying required help when requested.
This is the first time that Eversource employees from the Nashua Area Work Center are voting on a contract as members of IBEW Local #1837. Those 22 workers indicated their desire in April to change their representation to IBEW from a different union.
In addition, the recently-organized Credit Specialists voted separately to approve being incorporated into the Utility Group collective bargaining agreement. These seven employees, known within the company as “Collectors,” also accepted a change in their job classification to Field Service Representatives.
“As always, I’m very grateful for all the work put into these negotiations by our Union team. They gave up many hours of their own personal time during the weeks leading up to this agreement and even missed most of the recent holiday weekend to help us get this contract for our members,” IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan said.
“I was especially impressed by the new members of our team,” IBEW 1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers said. “Although it was their first time at the bargaining table, they offered valuable, thoughtful comments and made a real contribution to this effort.”
The Union Negotiating Team was Kitty Kilroy, Pat Moran, Kyle Ryan, Jake Cote, Jeff Huckins, Matt Keefe, Chris Giumarra, Mark Goodspeed, Pam Paquette, Rick Simons, Tony Sapienza, and Jay Davidson in addition to Tom Ryan, Dick Rogers and IBEW 1837 Administrative Assistant Sue Ekola.
More than 400 members of IBEW Local 1837 work for Eversource NH at the former Public Service Company of New Hampshire – approximately 275 in the Utility Group and 150 in the Generation Group. Eversource, the largest electric utility in New Hampshire, provides electricity for more than 475,000 homes and businesses.