IBEW Members at Granite Ridge Enjoy Improvements with Union and Prepare to Negotiate 2nd Contract

October 14, 2010 - Workers at Granite Ridge Energy in Londonderry, New Hampshire are preparing to negotiate the successor agreement to their first union contract. The power plant workers voted to join IBEW Local #1837 on August 4, 2006, though it took until March of 2008 to complete negotiations on the first contract. The represented workers include all 20 maintenance and operating personnel at the plant. Their first contract runs through March 26, 2011.

At first, the relationship between the Company and the Union got off to a bumpy start with a flurry of grievances after the first contract was ratified. The grievances, most of which involved upgrade pay for people working outside of their classification and scheduling changes in an effort to avoid the payment of overtime, were all settled prior to the completion of arbitration. After that, things seemed to settle down as both sides came to accept the benefits of working through their differences.

“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.”

Brother Kirby has been joined by Assistant Steward Joe Gilmore in both the negotiations process and in helping the Granite Ridge workforce function as an effective union.

“I think Scott and Joe have done a great job working together with their first contract, resolving their issues and keeping the unit together,” IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan said.

As the union members prepare for negotiations in the spring, they hope their proposals will continue the process of improving Granite Ridge Energy in a way that benefits both sides.

“We’re making it a much better place than it was before,” Scott Kirby said. “Morale has gone up considerably in the last three years. We’re getting along better than ever having the union here. I think management recognizes it has gotten better.”

The Granite Ridge Energy Facility is a 790 Megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant operated and maintained by North American Energy Services. NAES currently supplies both the management team and labor for the plant’s owners. With the price of gas fairly low, the plant has been running steadily for several months.

The photo above shows the IBEW 1837 Negotiating Team sharing a laugh during a break in their first contract talks in 2008. From left: IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Managers Tom Ryan and Bill Dunn, IBEW 2nd District Representative Ed Collins, Granite Ridge Energy Warehouse Technician Scott Kirby and Plant Operator Joe Gilmore.