IBEW 1837 Reaches Tentative Agreement for New Contract at Bangor Hydro

July 10, 2010 UPDATE - IBEW 1837 members at Bangor Hydro have voted to pass the tentative agreement and accept the new contract.

July 1, 2010 – IBEW Local 1837’s negotiating team has reached tentative agreement with Bangor Hydro on a new five-year contract with wage increases each year. Union members in the bargaining unit will vote on whether to ratify the package at a meeting on Saturday, July 10, 11:00 a.m. at the Ramada Inn in Bangor.

With 23 bargaining sessions since contract talks began in late February, negotiators discussed a wide range of both economic and non-economic issues before reaching tentative agreement shortly after the June 30th expiration of the previous contract.

The Union Negotiating Team is pleased that members at Bangor Hydro will stay significantly below recent trends on healthcare cost increases with no increase in 2011 of the medical premium costs the employees are paying if the contract is approved. In addition, employees will be able to enroll in vision and/or dental plans if they wish to do so. Although these will be paid for by the employee, they will be available at group rates.

Despite a strong desire by the Company to limit their risk, the IBEW team was gratified that they were able to convince negotiators for Bangor Hydro not to include contract language that would terminate health benefits for people who are on extended Long Term Disability.

General wage increases in the package are 3%, 3%, 3%, 3% and 3.25%. Those increases will be effective in the pay periods that include January 1 of each year.

While IBEW negotiators were not able to improve some allowances as much as they had hoped, they did succeed in improving some of the allowances in the package: The personal protective equipment (PPE) will increase to $200 and will pay out in February; a $200 toll allowance for mechanic; and small improvements in the meal allowance. There will be a change in meals for people who are working out of town, changing from a voucher system to a per diem system, with a per diem of $44.

IBEW 1837 achieved an improvement in the 401(k) match for employees who do not have a pension, and the match for all 401(k) participants will be semi-annual instead of annual.

A Training Committee has been established that will develop plans for training, beginning with the Power Systems Technical Department. This will enable employees to expand their skills, thereby increasing their opportunities for advancement and for additional overtime or other opportunities.

Bangor Hydro’s dissatisfaction with the overtime response dominated many of the discussions throughout negotiations, up to and including the last day of contract talks. In the end, agreement was reached on a plan that IBEW believes will address most of the issues that union members have said affect their desire to respond to overtime while satisfying the Company on what they deemed to be a serious issue. 

The contract has been reorganized so that topics that were previously spread into several articles are now together in one place, and outdated contract language has been clarified. Some language adjustments were made to reflect recent changes in law or in interpretations of law that could have affected things in our collective bargaining agreement.

These changes and others will be detailed in an information package to be presented to IBEW members at Bangor Hydro so that they can review them prior to the July 10th meeting and vote. Paper copies of the complete package will be available at that time. The Union Negotiating Team consisted of  Bob Economy, Jim Getchell, Renee Gilman, Jeff Linscott, Chief Steward Steve Smith, and IBEW 1837 Business Manager Cynthia Phinney.

There are approximately 130 IBEW 1837 members who work at Bangor Hydro. They represent classifications in the Customer Service Center, Electrical, Line and Meter departments.