Workers: Deal reached to avoid strike at plant

Cape Cod Times

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November 01, 2014

plantSANDWICH - NRG Energy Canal Generating Plant sits along the Cape Cod Canal.
Cape Cod Times/Merrily Cassidy
SANDWICH — Employees of the NRG Energy Canal Generating Plant have averted a strike by reaching a six-year contract, Dan Hurley, president of Local 369 Utility Workers Union of America, said Friday.

The new agreement came late Thursday night, within hours of the expiration of the union's current deal.
Last week, the 26 union employees voted unanimously to authorize a strike if a new contract could not be reached.

A vote has been scheduled for next Thursday to ratify the contract, Hurley said.

"It was a contentious negotiation, and I think it was late Tuesday that the company called a federal mediator in," Hurley said. The mediator worked through the day and night Wednesday and Thursday to help strike a deal, he said.

"He pushed both sides to come to the middle," Hurley said. "He moved the company and he moved us to get an agreement."

David Gaier, a spokesman for NRG Energy, issued a statement praising the negotiations.

"We're pleased that we've come to agreement with Local 369 on a new contract that works for both the company and the union, after mutually negotiating in good faith," Gaier said. "We're looking forward to the membership ratifying the agreement, as we continue to provide power to our customers safely and reliably."

Terms of the contract were not released. "The employees haven't even seen it yet," Hurley said. He did say that some of the top concerns of employees — health care and safety — are addressed in the new deal.
Sources have told the Times that NRG is in preliminary talks with the town about a repowering of the oil-fired canal power plant with natural gas.

NRG has declined to talk about any expansion plans at the plant, saying it would announce something if there were an approved plan in place. NRG is converting five coal-fired plants in its eastern fleet to natural gas, and a sixth will use ultra-low-sulfur diesel to power its generators, a spokesman told the Times last week.

Follow George Brennan on Twitter: @gpb227.

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