Business Manager Tony Sapienza
IBEW 1837 and Bangor Hydro Reach Accord on Tobacco Policy
IBEW Local 1837 members at Bangor Hydro will no longer face the possibility of being fired for failing to follow the Company’s new “tobacco-free workplace” policy prohibiting use of tobacco products while at work or on company property. This after BHE agreed to remove termination of employment from the final step of disciplinary procedures for failure to comply with the new rules. The original policy went beyond a prohibition on smoking and also included the use of smokeless tobacco products.
“Bangor Hydro has agreed to a much more clear and reasonable definition of where tobacco products may be used,” said IBEW 1837 Business Manager Cynthia Phinney. Under the new agreement between BHE and our Union, IBEW members may now smoke or use tobacco products during breaks, while on lunch or on call, as long as they remain at least 25 feet away from Company property or a worksite.
Although BHE officials maintained that their interest in promoting their new policy was a sincere attempt to protect employee health, IBEW successfully argued that removing workers from their jobs does not enhance their health and well-being.
Furthermore, the Company has agreed that they will not request any amending of the tobacco policy during the life of our current collective bargaining agreement. Also, BHE has agreed to cover the costs of a smoking cessation program for an employee wishing to quit for the next six months. They have also agreed to pay to cover the cost of cessation for an employee’s spouse—so long as the employee agrees to stop the use of tobacco products at the same time.
Other represented companies have also begun to discourage use of tobacco products by their employees through strict limitations on tobacco use during work, or by charging a penalty on an employee’s share of health insurance premiums for failing to sign a statement indicating that they are “tobacco-free.”