Deal reached to end NH Electric Cooperative strikeBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 17. 2018 9:02PM
Striking union workers expect to return to work Tuesday after ratifying a tentative agreement reached with the New Hampshire Electric Co-op.
“The strike is over at the NH Electric Cooperative,” said a Facebook post by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1837.
The 3 1/2-year pact, which workers ratified Thursday, still needs approval from the NHEC board of directors, which is expected early next week, the company said.
The union said it anticipates its members will return to their jobs Tuesday after the board’s “anticipated approval.”
The two sides Wednesday reached an agreement “that does not include the language that the union had objected to and provides for modest increases in pay, 401(k) and pension benefits,” according to the co-op.
More than 80 IBEW workers were striking since May 7 over retirement issues.
“They look forward to getting back to work and doing the jobs they do so well,” said the union’s Facebook post.
The union filed an unfair labor practice last week with the National Labor Relations Board in Boston.
The Plymouth-based company wanted to no longer negotiate future changes over pension and 401(k) plans that the union maintained were mandatory bargaining subjects.
NHEC said the company proposed retirement benefits at the same level as non-union employees, including senior management.
Until the contract is approved by both sides, contract line crews will continue to restore power outages and protect public safety.
The union agreement expired April 30. The workers went on strike after more than 20 negotiating sessions, the company said.
“Our union employees are skilled, dedicated professionals who serve our members well,” said NHEC President/CEO Steve Camerino. “We’re hopeful that they will be back on the job soon.”
NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 84,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities.
Strikers had set up picket lines in Plymouth, Andover, Raymond and Meredith.