IBEW 1837 Members Ratify Contract at NH Electric Co-op and Avoid Strike

October 5, 2012 - IBEW Local 1837 members at the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative have ratified a new 5 1/2- year contract agreement that provides wage increases and preserves a defined benefit pension plan for current and new employees. The ratification vote prevented a looming strike at the utility that serves some 83,000 homes and business across 115 towns and cities.

The vote at NHEC's Plymouth headquarters followed a week's contract extension requested by a federal mediator. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #1837 represents approximately 85 employees at the company. These dedicated men and women have received near universal praise for their outstanding work, particularly following storm-related power outages.

"While I'm pleased that we were able to reach agreement with the Co-op on a new contract, I'm disappointed that the Company chose to paint our union members as greedy and uncaring about their customers," IBEW Business Manager Dick Rogers said. "They ought to be ashamed of themselves."

Earlier this week, NHEC President/CEO Fred Anderson and company spokesman Seth Wheeler issued deliberately misleading statements to media outlets about concessions made by employees in 2009. While it is true that union members weren't forced to accept the same pension cuts as NHEC's non-union employees, IBEW voluntarily agreed to major concessions at that time, accepting 20 unpaid furlough days and significant layoffs. The company's willful deception left IBEW members hurt and angry in the days leading up to today's vote.

Kimberlyn Davis, the wife of Lineworker Don Davis put the feelings of many NHEC families and customers into words when she wrote her letter to the Laconia Citizen newspaper:

"When everyone else is told to “stay inside” and “be prepared” by the weather man, it is our husbands and fathers who put on their boots and the warmest clothes they have and head out into the middle of the night to go walk the power lines that run through the woods to find the problem, cut down trees that are dangerously laying on wire which could recoil as soon as the cut is made, climb utility poles in severe weather conditions as all power lines don't just run along the roadside and bucket trucks can't go everywhere.

"They do all of this with ice coating the trees which causes the potential for a limb to snap off or a tree to tip over due to the weight of the ice.

"That is just one scenario but those are the fears that we wives and families face every time our loved ones walk out that door in the name of NHEC.

"Now that I've given you that scenario think about every holiday, every family event, any vacation planned, or just having a relaxing weekend at home. There is no such thing for these guys."

"I know this has been a difficult time for IBEW members at NHEC and I'm glad we can put this chapter behind us," IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan said. "They now can continue their excellent service to NHEC customers and their communities."

"On behalf of all our IBEW members, we want to thank the Union Negotiating Team for all their hard work in nearly 20 bargaining sessions going all the way back to April," Rogers said. "Their efforts are greatly appreciated," Ryan added. 

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative is a member-owned and controlled distributor of electricity where approximately 85 members of IBEW Local 1837 are employed helping deliver electricity to a wide swath of New Hampshire. At the Co-op, IBEW Local 1837 represents employees including District Representatives, Working Foremen, Lineworkers, Operations Coordinators, Line Design Technicians, Auto Mechanics, System Electricians, Meter Technicians, Warehouse Workers and other Technicians.