Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Union and Brookfield Agree on Reorganization Plan and Contract Extension
November 22, 2013 - IBEW Local #1837 has announced a final agreement between the Union and Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners officials on the company’s reorganization plans and a 4-year extension of the parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Early in September, Brookfield notified the Union of their intention to eliminate 21 out of a total of 51 positions at the hydroelectric dams they acquired from NextEra Energy Resources LLC late last year.
IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Bill Dunn was joined by Chief Steward Ed Goodale and IBEW 1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers for the negotiations that stretched over several weeks. On Monday, November 11, an agreement was signed that included a voluntary early retirement plan for those 55 and older, an enhanced severance package for other members, and the extension of the contract that was set to run out in February.
“The Union’s goal was to mitigate the damage to our members by persuading the Company to offer enhanced severance pay and an early retirement package,” Rogers said. “Our hope was to avoid any involuntary layoffs.”
The new collective bargaining agreement was ratified by a majority of the members, many of whom will no longer be employed by the Company. The 4-year contract extension will provide some sense of stability to the 30 IBEW 1837 members expected to remain at Brookfield. The deal includes a 10% wage increase over the term of the agreement and a $4,000 signing bonus effective in February.
Union members expressed their gratitude to their leadership team for making the best of a bad situation.
“I think we had a lot of positive feedback from our members but there's still some uneasiness and trust issues about Brookfield that we hope we can overcome,” Chief Steward Goodale said. “Losing so many members at the same time as a contract extension is bittersweet.”
Some of the positions will be moved to Brookfield’s Operations Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts. On March 1, the Company will begin to reduce their Maine workforce and many of those who will remain are skeptical that all the work can be done with only 30 people. The contract extension includes language that may help the Union to recoup some of those positions in the future.