New Hampshire Electric Cooperative workers ratify contract averting strike
Strike looms for electric co-op
PLYMOUTH - Union employees of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative ratified a new contract Friday morning, averting a looming strike at the utility that serves some 83,000 homes and businesses in all parts of the state.
The vote at NHEC headquarters came after months of tense negotiations between the utility and IBEW Local 1837 over wages and pensions. The deadlock continued after the previous contract expired on Sept. 30. Both sides agreed to a federal mediator's request for a one-week extension, and negotiations went down to the wire on Thursday.
The 85 IBEW members are primarily line workers, warehouse employees, technicians and control center operators, comprising about half the workforce for the utility.
IBEW Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan said the new agreement provides wage increases and preserves a defined benefit pension plan for new and existing employees, in a modified form with smaller payouts. Wage increases will average 2 percent to 2.5 percent per year over the 5 1/2 years of the contract, he said.
Ryan said the pension plan changes and raises were "reflective of the times."
He declined to reveal the vote totals, but said, "It was a very close vote. I can tell you that."
The agreement still needs the approval of the NHEC Board of Directors, which will be meeting on Monday.
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