Business Manager Tony Sapienza
New IBEW 1837 Members at CMP Call Center Approve Their First Contract
February 10, 2014 - Customer Service Representatives at the Central Maine Power Call Center in Augusta have ratified their first union contract with the Company. An overwhelming majority of the 46 CSR’s voted late last week to accept the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between IBEW Local 1837 and CMP. The workers had voted to organize a union this past June.
“It has been quite a process over the last eight months but I'm excited that the committee was able to negotiate an acceptable first contract,” said Joe Giuffrida, a Customer Service Representative and member of the Union Negotiating Committee. “I'm blessed to work with such a great group of individuals both at the Call Center and at IBEW Local 1837.”
The contract provides the workers their first grievance and arbitration procedure, the protection of a “just cause” provision and a well-defined wage scale in addition to other improvements. These workers have been incorporated into the largest bargaining unit at CMP with more than 500 other union employees. They will maintain their current benefits package until a new agreement for the entire group is negotiated this spring.
“We are pleased that we got a reasonable offer from the Company and the employees accepted it,” said IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Bill Dunn. “We are now looking forward to continuing our work with the management team and our new members to help make things better at the Call Center for all concerned.”
This was the second attempt by this group of workers to join IBEW. An earlier attempt in 2005 fell a few votes short. April Cooper was one of the Customer Service Representatives who participated in both campaigns.
"It's been a long time coming," Cooper said last June after the successful vote to join IBEW. "It should've happened in 2005."
IBEW 1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers took note that the contract vote represented a significant achievement not only for these workers but for the Union as a whole.
“The successful organizing campaign at the CMP Call Center and this first contract ratification marks the continuation of successful efforts by IBEW Local 1837 to grow our membership and represent more workers at electric utilities in Maine and New Hampshire,” Rogers said.
“I’m grateful to fellow committee members Joe, Bill and April for their hard work on the Union negotiating committee and Organizer Matt Beck for all his help in getting this ratification. I’d also like to acknowledge those who attended various informational meetings including Portland CSR’s Tabitha Noble, Terri MacDonald and Lisa Bartell as well as Field Planner Becky Rugan,” Rogers continued. “I’d similarly like to thank our newest members who voted in favor of the contract for their vote of confidence and assure those who were opposed to it that we will work hard to gain their trust.”
A second, smaller group of Customer Service Representatives in Portland continues to be represented by the Union. Both groups of workers take customer service and billing phone calls on behalf of Maine's largest electric utility.