In Maine: IBEW Local 1837
16 Old Winthrop Road
Manchester, ME 04351
Phone: (207) 623-1030, Fax: (207) 621-8384
In New Hampshire:
680 Central Avenue, Suite 201
Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 743-1652, Fax: (603) 743-1654

Legislative

Maine Governor’s Veto of Consumer-Owned Utility Bill Sustained


The legislature convened on July 19 to
consider vetoes including LD 1708.

July 19, 2021 - The Maine House of Representatives failed to override the veto by Governor Janet Mills of a consumer-owned utility bill 68- 65, far short of the necessary 2/3 margin. That means that voters will not see a referendum question creating Pine Tree Power on the ballot this fall. If approved by voters, Pine Tree Power would have replaced Central Maine Power and Versant Power with a consumer-owned utility. The bill’s proponents pledged to collect enough signatures to place the question before voters in November 2022.

When a prior version of the legislation was first introduced in January 2019, IBEW 1837 was committed to participating in the process to ensure that employees and ratepayers' interests were at the forefront of any proposed legislation. After a careful and painstaking review of the final legislation by our legal counsel, the Union decided to come out against the bill. Of the utmost concern was the possible loss of private sector collective bargaining rights guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act if the new utility is classified as a public employer.

“We’re pleased that Gov. Mills has decided to veto LD 1708, the Pine Tree Power bill, and that the Legislature has sustained her veto,” IBEW 1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza said. “While we appreciate and recognize efforts made by lead sponsor Rep. Seth Berry to craft legislation that would be good for our members and Maine ratepayers, the change to a consumer-owned utility would bring with it tremendous risks and uncertainty. Although Maine’s investor-owned electric utilities are far from perfect, we’re committed to working with them to improve service for Maine’s ratepayers and to making those utilities better places to work for our members throughout the state. Therefore, we are opposed to replacing Central Maine Power and Versant Power with a consumer-owned utility.”

In order to place a referendum creating a consumer-owned utility on next year’s ballot, the number of valid signatures required would be 10 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. That means that supporters would need to gather at least 63,067 signatures from registered voters in Maine, a difficult but not insurmountable task.

Both utilities – particularly Central Maine Power – have suffered in recent years before the court of public opinion. Central Maine Power has been criticized for their storm response and billing issues. CMP’s pursuit of the New England Clean Energy Connect project to bring in power from Hydro Quebec is deeply unpopular with some voters.

Workers Speak Out Against NH "Right to Work" Bill


The Zoom hearing had some 100 witnesses and took
more than six hours to complete.

March 25, 2021 - At a hearing of the New Hampshire House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee, the overwhelming majority of people testified in opposition to the so-called “Right to Work” bill. Elected union leaders were joined by rank-and-file union members in urging committee members to vote “Inexpedient to Legislate” on the union-busting bill, SB 61. Similar bills have been considered dozens of times in the State Legislature and have always failed to become law.

“The only purpose of this bill is to increase corporate power at the expense of working people,” IBEW Local #1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza said. “Obviously, wages and benefits will erode faster or grow slower if corporations are empowered and collective bargaining rights are eroded.”

In addition to workers and their unions, other opponents of the bill included faith leaders, economists, small business owners and larger companies that rely on union apprenticeship programs for a reliable source of skilled workers.

Corporate lobby groups such as NH BIA were joined by the Virginia-based National Right to Work Committee in support of the bill. All testimony was given on Zoom at the virtual hearing.

Prior to the hearing, it was announced that just over 200 people from New Hampshire had signed on in support of the bill on the NH General Court website while more than 1,700 had signed on in opposition to it, a margin of more than 8 to 1 against Right to Work.

One of the last people to testify against the bill was Pat Moran, a Troubleshooter for Eversource NH and a Chief Steward for IBEW Local 1837.

Working Families in NH Face Another Attack on Their Unions


February 9, 2021 - Anti-union politicians in Concord and out-of-state special interest groups are back at it again. They’re trying to cut wages and benefits for union members by supporting more deceptively titled “Right to Work” legislation, Senate Bill 61.

Right to Work should be called “Right to Work for Less!” It doesn’t create any jobs or give anybody rights. It simply undermines the ability of working people to join together in strong unions by attacking their unions’ financial health. When unions are undermined in this way, wages, benefits and safety for workers all suffer as a result. In fact, what these special interest groups really want to do is abolish unions altogether.

“This will be devastating for the hardworking men and women in New Hampshire,” said IBEW 1837 member Pat Moran, a Troubleshooter at Eversource.  “This will lead to low paying jobs, jobs with less benefits and in general employees that have no care for their employers.”

If Senate Bill 61 is passed by the New Hampshire Senate, it would then move on to the House of Representatives where it would face additional hearings and a vote by that legislative body.

“Our members know that these bills are designed to hurt them and their families and they’re speaking out and contacting their elected representatives,” said IBEW 1837 Business Representative Matthew Beck. “Wages in so-called right to work states are 16% lower on average and why would anybody think that’s a good idea?”

IBEW 1837 Member Poised to Serve in Maine Legislature

Kevin O'Connell
Kevin O'Connell

January 23, 2020 - Kevin O’Connell, a longtime member of IBEW Local #1837, First Class Lineworker at EmeraMaine and former Brewer mayor, has been nominated as the Democratic candidate for the House District 128 special election. The vacancy in that seat is a result of the passing of the late State Representative Arthur C. "Archie" Verow.

“I’m proud to carry on the legacy of service that was so important to Archie,” said O’Connell. “In him, we had a representative that represented the values of this city. I am committed to doing my best to be that person for Brewer.”

O’Connell, 59, who was born and raised in Brewer, served two years as Brewer’s mayor and nine years on the city council. O’Connell served 24 years in the military, six years as a First Sergeant, with his final deployment being in Baghdad. He’s worked at Bangor Hydro and EmeraMaine since March 6, 1989.

“I love Brewer, I love our city of great people, and I am committed to representing us in Augusta,” said O’Connell.

Lawmakers, Union Reps and Customers Express Concerns About Proposed Emera Maine Sale to ENMAX


Senate President Troy Jackson

August 7, 2019 - Senate President Troy Jackson, Rep. Seth Berry, IBEW Local 1837 and Emera ratepayers held a press conference in Orono to share their concerns about the proposed sale of Emera Maine to ENMAX of Calgary, Alberta.

Mainers are worried about the proposed sale of Emera Maine to ENMAX and the impact it could have on Emera Maine’s workers as well as the ratepayers of Maine’s second largest electric utility.

Specifically, they are concerned that ENMAX is paying too much ($1.3 Billion, all financed by debt) and is too small a company to provide the service Emera Maine’s ratepayers need and deserve. Cuts in staffing and service along with substantially increased electric rates may be necessary to help finance this proposed acquisition.

“More than 150,000 people in Northern Maine depend on Emera Maine for electricity, including myself. With so much at stake, we need to make sure the sale of Emera to ENMAX doesn’t leave hardworking families and seniors in the dark,” said President Jackson. “The PUC shouldn’t allow this deal to move forward unless it is in the best interest of Mainer ratepayers.”

Rep. Seth Berry is the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.

"This sale has all the hallmarks of the FairPoint sale," Berry said, "and that is something that we need to avoid."

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