IBEW 1837 Effort Helps Electric System Operators at Unitil to Receive Back Pay

December 6, 2012 - Recently organized workers at Unitil's Centralized Electric Dispatch (CED) in Portsmouth will be receiving back pay as the result of unfair labor practice charges filed by IBEW Local 1837, and a settlement agreement between the National Labor Relations Board, Unitil Service Corporation and  the Union.

In August, the Company granted wage increases and new payment for overtime to employees at Unitil CED who were not involved in an organizing campaign concerning five Electric System Operators, who sought representation by the IBEW. At that time, IBEW Local 1837 believed that the Company's actions were unlawful and filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB.

A few weeks later, the workers won their union election 3 to 2 but the NLRB's investigation continued, resulting in the settlement agreement that was signed late last week.

The settlement agreement calls for the following:

Moving forward, the Electric System Operators will receive the same wage increases and new overtime payments that the Company had granted to non-bargaining unit employees.

Within 14 days of the agreement's approval, these five employees will receive full payment for back pay and overtime since August plus interest.

Unitil will post an official notice from the NLRB on the Unitil CED bulletin board that is signed by a Unitil representative notifying workers at the Unitil CED of their legal right to participate in union activity; that the Company will repay the workers for the wages that were denied; and that the Company will not give non-bargaining unit employees better pay or benefits while withholding them from others because of their support of the Union.

While the settlement agreement constitutes a major victory for these workers and their Union, they still look forward to negotiating their first contract with the Company. The workers have been meeting with union officials to prepare proposals in anticipation of the upcoming negotiations. IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan expects those talks to begin early next year.