N.H. Electric Co-op Workers Go on Strike

Concord Monitor
Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Concord — The union representing workers at New Hampshire Electric Cooperative went on strike late Monday morning, following weeks of negotiations over a new contract.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1837, which represents 85 employees in the small utility, voted, 79-1, last week to reject the company’s contract offer. Members in the smaller warehouse bargaining unit also voted unanimously to reject the contract and authorize a strike, the union said.

NHEC said in a statement on Monday that it “has activated a contingency plan that will provide for adequate coverage of power outages and protect public safety. Certified line crews have been engaged and will be accompanied on any outage calls by non-union NHEC employees who are familiar with the service territory.”

No further contract negotiations are scheduled at this time.

NHEC serves 83,000 residents across 115 towns, including several in the northern part of the Concord region, tying it with Unitil as the state’s second largest electric company. More than 5,800 of those customers are located within the Upper Valley.

The main sticking point in negotiations, the union said, was whether the company has the “unilateral right to modify or eliminate 401(k) or pension plans without first negotiating with the union.”

The company said it offered union members the same pension and 401k benefits that are currently offered to non-union employees, which was rejected.

Union officials accused the company of trying to “balance the books on the backs of their workers” by changing the retirement plans. The union said the top 12 managers and executives at NHEC make over $2 million in base salary and another $600,000 in other compensation.

Customers who need service should be able to contact the utility as they always have.

“NHEC’s Control Center will still be staffed 24 hours a day and members should still report outages to the NHEC Outage line at 1-800-343-6432, or online at www.nhec.com,” the company said.