Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Maine Public Service Members Ratify New Contact and Agreement is Merged with Bangor Hydro
October 2, 2013 – IBEW members at Maine Public Service (MPS) have ratified a new contract with an average wage increase of 8.8% over two years. The agreement also includes improvements in overtime, call-out, standby, and system emergency pay as well as a number of other improvements. The contract is an addendum to the collective bargaining agreement the Union already has with Bangor Hydro (BHE), also owned by Emera, Inc.
The contract represents the integration of the agreements at the two companies.
“I’m pleased that the overall contract is better in virtually every way for our members at Maine Public Service,” IBEW 1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers said. “While I’m disappointed that they will have fewer Lead Lineworkers in order to bring them into alignment with Bangor Hydro, the Union did get the company to delay the transitions to the new positions until January 1, 2015.”
During the agreement Line, Garage and Power Tech classifications are brought into pay parity while leaving Stock Clerks at their current pay rates plus percentage increases. The Union Negotiating Committee tried very hard to get the Stock Clerks up to parity with their counterparts at BHE but to no avail. However, Stock Clerks along with Meter Representatives are slated for wage increases of 3% in December 2013 and 3.25% in December 2014. The contract also includes raises and a progression schedule for the Customer Service Representatives who are in the contract for the first time at MPS.
Rogers said the committee also would have preferred seeing the wage parity take effect upon ratification.
Every MPS member will receive at least a $250 signing bonus with a handful of classifications receiving an additional $250.00 due to lesser percentage increases.
Workers hired prior to 2006 will continue with their same pension and 401(k) plan. Those hired after that date will enjoy an increase in the Company match to their 401(k) from 50% of up to 6% to a full 100% match of up to 6%.
IBEW members at MPS will be able to keep their current health insurance with the New England Electrical Workers Benefit Fund through 2015 with the option of switching to the BHE plan in 2014.
They maintained their FR (fire retardant) clothing allowance even though BHE utilizes a lease agreement. A committee is being established with union members from both companies to determine what would work best in the future.
IBEW Chief Steward Pat Cote was upbeat about the ratified agreement and the process that brought them there.
“I think people generally feel good about it,” Cote said. “I think we learned something from the new company and they learned something from us – that we’re good people.”
Cote credited Union Negotiating Team members Renee Gilman and Bob Economy from BHE for “helping to bridge the barrier” between the two companies. He also praised Dick Rogers for his expertise, new team member Roxanne Smith as “a real asset” to the Union negotiators, and his longtime co-workers Jon Lauritsen, Bruce Ayotte and Cary Daigle.
“We’ve negotiated with Jon, Bruce and Cary a few times now,” Cote continued. “We don’t just look out for ourselves, we’re sitting there as a team to get things for the whole membership. That’s part of being a Brother or Sister.”