Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Union Workers On Strike at New Hampshire Electric Co-op
Last week, union members in the largest bargaining unit at the New Hampshire Electric Co-op voted 79 – 1 to reject the company’s contract offer and authorize the IBEW Negotiating Team to call for a strike at the utility. Members in the smaller Warehouse bargaining unit also voted unanimously to reject the contract and authorize a strike. Union and Company negotiators met this morning but NHEC representatives refused to back off their demand that that they have the unilateral right to modify or eliminate 401(k) or pension plans without first negotiating with the Union. In other areas, the Union previously agreed to almost all of the company’s proposals - including flexibility.
The Union agreed to extend the previous contract until today due to the company’s promise to bring something to this morning’s bargaining session with a substantial change that would make us happy. We can’t help but think this tactic was just a way to have our members around for this past weekend’s storms.
The Company’s continued insistence on this extreme proposal would make NHEC one of the only unionized electric utilities in the country to have such disastrous language affecting worker retirement plans. The Company was clear this was not about a failing pension plan but rather that they want to be able to balance the books on the backs of their workers by changing the plan at any time they wished.
The top 12 management people at NHEC make over $2 million in base salary and another $600,000 in other compensation. Two of the managers who responsible for making the decisions for the management negotiating team make $353,000 plus $86,000 in other compensation and the other makes $189,000 plus $72,000 in other compensation a year, according to NHEC’s 2016 income report.
The fact that the management team would treat these men and women this way is unconscionable, especially given what they do day-in and day-out in the worst conditions imaginable to keep the lights on for NHEC customers. These are highly-skilled hardworking, dedicated workers for the members of the Cooperative. They deserve better.