Pole-Setting Pilot Project Seeks to Recoup Work for Union Members at CMP

February 15, 2013 - Pole-setting work being performed by a non-union outside contractor may return to members of IBEW Local 1837 employed at Central Maine Power as the result of an ongoing pilot program spearheaded by the Union. A pair of two-person IBEW-represented crews are already getting the job done effectively and efficiently in what looks like a win-win proposition for both the Union and the Company.

"Nobody does a better job setting poles," said IBEW 1837 member Sam Webber on a recent frosty February morning in Maine's Somerset County, just south of Bangor. Brother Webber and his crewmate Dave Kelley had just finished threading a new pole through overhead wires into a freshly-dug hole on Detroit's Main Street.

"Could you have picked a colder morning to do this?" a nearby resident shivered before heading back inside. In fact, the previous day had been even colder with a biting northwest wind, but Webber and Kelley had still managed to set seven poles in spite of getting a late start out of the Augusta Service Center. Matt Wakefield and Kyle Cook make up the other team working out of the Portland Service Center.

The pilot project officially kicked off on January 1 of this year although both teams did some work in December to prepare. They're already exceeding the goals established by IBEW 1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers and Assistant Business Manager Bill Dunn when they designed the project in 2012.

"We see it as a positive for the Union to bring this work back and the process is improving every week," Rogers said. "They're doing a great job."

IBEW 1837 believes that CMP and their customers will also benefit from bringing this work back in-house. The Union is grateful to Iberdrola USA's Kevin Walker and Robert Kump for providing the authorization necessary for the pilot project's launch.