Business Manager Tony Sapienza
New Contract Ratified at Emera Maine
July 16, 2015 - IBEW 1837 members at Emera ratified a new 5-year contract on July 2nd that includes wage increases in most classifications and comparatively modest increases in health insurance premiums for all members. Voter turnout was high with more than 90% of the 200 workers in the bargaining unit casting ballots in either Bangor or Presque Isle.
Over the term of the agreement most of the workers will see a nearly 15% wage increase with a notable exception being the 20 Customer Service Representatives and three Stockhandlers in the southern part of the Emera territory. The Company had proposed wage cuts for these classifications in order to bring them to parity with their workers in the northern part of the state. Eventually the Company agreed to freeze their pay while giving the CSR’s and Stockhandlers annual lump sum payments of $650 and $1,000, respectively.
“It’s still a struggle for membership to see the huge profits these companies are making and then see some of the initial proposals that they put on the table,” IBEW Local #1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers told the Bangor Daily News.
The two Emera Call Centers will be combined as of 2019 in Presque Isle .The CSR’s in Bangor will receive a $5,000 lump sum payment for their moving expenses if they choose to relocate up north.
The new contract eliminates the good attendance bonus but adds 24-hours personal time for all members.
An article has been added to the agreement for out-of-town staging. Members sent out-of-town with less than 24-hours notice will receive six hours of premium pay. Those who receive more than 24-hours notice will receive two hours of premium pay. A stand-by premium will be paid if workers are put on stand-by while out-of-town.
All of Emera will move to one employee seniority list under the new contract, effective September 30, 2015.
For the first time, the Emera collective bargaining agreement will include language on our members conducting business on behalf of the Union.
A number of changes in the contract will benefit members working in System Operations. They will now be covered in the main body of the collective bargaining agreement under a separate article.
Changes to term positions include the ability for members who request a return to their previous position in the first 45 days on that job to be returned within 45 days of the request.
The Union successfully bargained for improvements to the Grievance process that shorten the timeline between filing and arbitration. The change should result in quicker resolutions for our members.
Employee and dependent health insurance changes include increases in deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket expenses. Weekly premiums will also increase but at a significantly lower rate than in the last five years.
As is often the case, although Union and Company negotiators met for several weeks, and occasionally with the assistance of a federal mediator, much of the agreement was hammered out in the final 24 hours of bargaining. Dick Rogers was joined on the Union Negotiating Team by Emera union members Jon Lauritsen, Bob Economy, Bruce Ayotte, Jeff Linscott, Pat Cote, Jim Getchell, Cary Daigle and Renee Gilman. Roxanne Smith and Steve Lemieux also provided help serving on subcommittees.
“We’re fortunate to have dedicated union members and stewards at all of our companies who serve on these negotiating teams and Emera is certainly no exception,” Rogers said. “They’re a great team. I’d like to express my appreciation to them and to all of our members at Emera for their patience and professionalism during these difficult negotiations.”