Granite Ridge Workers Ratify 2nd Contract

May 11, 2011 - Local 1837 members at the Granite Ridge power plant near Londonderry ratified their second contract agreement on last month, giving them a more than 9 percent wage increase over the life of the three-year deal (3 ½%, 3%, 3%), streamlined grievance and arbitration procedures, an extra paid holiday, and an increase in the call-out premium with less than 24 hours notice.

While it took a year to get their first contract, negotiations on its renewal only took weeks. “Things went a lot smoother this time around,” IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan said. “Both sides were a lot more comfortable with the collective bargaining process.”

Negotiations were suspended for some time and a two-week contract extension was agreed to so that the workers could repair the plant after a forced outage.

The more than 20 employees first approached Local 1837 in 2006 because of poor working conditions and abusive managers.

“Working conditions were horrendous,” Business Manager Cynthia Phinney said. “Management kept changing the rules by the day, so an employee who was told to do something a certain way one day would get in trouble for doing the same thing the next.”

As reported in the Fall 2010 issue of The Current, conditions for the workers and relations with the Company have seen marked improvement since then.

“We’ve come a long way here. We were met with resistance at first, but we’ve learned a mutual respect between us and the Company,” Chief Steward Scott Kirby said. “We’re working as a team with the management here. The lesson to be learned is that the relationship doesn’t have to be adversarial.”

Company and Union negotiators met a total of nine times from February 3 to March 31.Chief Steward Scott Kirby, Assistant Steward Joe Gilmore, Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan and IBEW 1837 Administrative Assistant Sue Ekola made up the Union Negotiating Team.

“Scott and Joe did an awesome job preparing the proposals, representing their members and keeping everybody informed,” said Ryan.  “I really appreciate all the hard work they put into this.”