Business Manager Tony Sapienza
NU Call Center Customer Service Reps Set to Vote in Union Election
March 13, 2013 - More than 150 Customer Service Representatives at the Northeast Utilities Manchester, New Hampshire "Customer Experience Center" will vote next month on whether they will be represented by IBEW Local 1837 for collective bargaining. Company representatives have already started their campaign against their workers forming a Union.
"This election will decide whether the Company can continue to dictate all the terms and conditions of employment for the Customer Service Representatives or whether these workers will have the opportunity to negotiate improvements and bargain for a better future," IBEW 1837 Organizer Matt Beck said. "That's what this vote is fundamentally about."
The campaign to unionize the Call Center began almost two years ago with a handful of workers. More than 150 Customer Service Representatives at the Center take phone calls for Public Service Company of New Hampshire, Connecticut Light and Power and Western Massachusetts Electric, answering questions about billing and service for the electric utilities owned by N.U. A secret ballot election for the workers to decide whether to join the union has been scheduled by the National Labor Relations Board for Wednesday, April 10 at the Call Center.
The Call Center workers have challenging jobs and work long hours, especially during storm restoration. They’ve cited a pattern of unfair and inconsistent treatment by managers for some workers while other employees enjoy the benefit of obvious favoritism. Like almost all non-union workers, the Customer Service Representatives are "at will" employees who can be fired for virtually any reason at any time. Many of them want to join IBEW Local 1837 to make sure they get the respect and voice in the workplace they deserve, and the protections than can be found only in a union contract .
Although the Company has insisted that they wanted workers to have “all the facts,” they have not yet been willing to provide workers with information from or a presentation by the Union. N.U. has suggested that IBEW may lie to them and issue fines if they join the Union. Many workers left anti-union meetings last year confused and upset after listening to nearly an hour of misleading statements, half-truths and distortions.
With a new round of anti-union meetings expected soon, IBEW 1837 is urging our current union members in New Hampshire and Maine to support and encourage these Call Center workers in any way that they can. If union members need to call PSNH with a billing or service question, they can tell their Customer Service Representative that they support their campaign to join IBEW. But these workers probably won't say much in return. All of their calls are recorded and may be listened to by N.U. management.
Call Center workers may find the answers to many common questions about unions athttp://ibew1837.org/CallCenterUnion.