Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Nearly Five Years after Layoff, IBEW 1837 Member Returns to Brookfield with Gratitude to Union
September 26, 2018 - It’s all too common for some people to question the need for unions in 2018. “Unions had their place in days gone by but they’re no longer necessary,” they say. But don’t say that to Bill Brady at Brookfield’s Renewable Energy. Bill is one member of IBEW Local 1837 who clearly understands the value of union membership and having union representation in today’s workplace.
When Brookfield announced their intentions in 2014 to pare back staffing at their Maine hydro facilities, IBEW Local 1837 proceeding to enter into a determined round of negotiations with the Company to make sure our members received respect and the best treatment possible under the circumstances. While some members eagerly accepted a package of buyouts and early retirement incentives, some of our members were not ready or able to take that step. The Company agreed to the Union’s proposal to give lengthy call-back rights to laid off workers for jobs that might open several years down the line.
For 54-year-old Senior Production Tech A, Bill Brady, it was a wait of 4 ½ years of working in non-union jobs and some challenging health problems, but his call-back finally came just before summer this year. Coming back to IBEW 1837 and his job at Brookfield was “like a cold drink after a long, hot day,” Bill said.
“The dynamics of a non-union shop were an eye opener,” Brady said. “Things like no bargaining for wage increase, no equal overtime possibility, management selected who was going to work or not. No protection of trade ownership, for example, I hold a welding certificate, but another coworker without certification was used. And by the way I was responsible for the cost of maintaining the licenses I hold. All these things seem to be too easy to be taken for granted when you have them, but when you don’t . . . Well you get the point.”
Aside from his escape from “at-will” employment and appreciating the benefit of the “just cause” protections of a union contract, he likes that fact that you’re guaranteed to have the safety gear and everything else you need to do your job, and you don’t have to ask for it!
“When I make the statement that it is good to be back under the union banner, not only did I get the call to return to my job, but I was able to keep my seniority date which is important for things like vacation time. I was outfitted with prescription safety glasses, electrical rated safety shoes, Arc flash rated clothing, rain gear, welding gear, cell phone and computer. The union did a nice job working with the company to provide the worker with not only a great livelihood but a means to be safe and very proud of the workplace.”
When IBEW 1837 negotiates on behalf of our members, we have people like Bill and his wife Kimi and their family in mind.
“There was no second guessing on my part coming back to 1837,” Bill Brady said. “My health is rebounding on the mend. I thank God not only for my health but for having the job available to me. Thank you IBEW 1837 and Brookfield Renewable, from my wife, daughters, grandsons, we are all very grateful.”