Utility Workers With Eversource Energy Vote To Authorize Strike
Utility workers with Eversource Energy vote to authorize strike over key issues of safety, staffing and healthcare Contract with New England's largest utility set to expire at midnight on June 1
BRAINTREE, MA (May 18, 2015) – Members of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 have voted overwhelmingly to authorize their leadership to call a strike as negotiations with Eversource Energy have stalled.
Eversource is the new name of NStar and Northeast Utilities, and is New England's largest utility. About 1,900 of UWUA Local 369's 3,000 members work for Eversource, and the contract expires at midnight on June 1, 2015. According to UWUA President Dan Hurley, the two sides are very far apart over issues relating to staffing, healthcare and the elimination of a key five-year no layoff clause.
"We are extremely concerned about the serious ramifications that could result for consumers throughout Massachusetts and New England if Eversource is able to eliminate the layoff clause. This clause in part ensures adequate training and staffing is available for a whole host of responsibilities, including important preventative maintenance work and storm response," Hurley said. "This is one of the critical issues in this dispute. The safety of our members and our communities is our top priority. By a nearly unanimous vote, our members are making it clear that they will stand up to Eversource and demand a fair and reasonable contract."
Staffing is a particular concern given the aging of the workforce and the fact that it takes multiple years to effectively train the linemen responsible for maintaining lines and responding to power outages.
"During the snowiest winter on record, we were able to prevent any major widespread power outages, largely due to the fact that we have such highly trained, experienced and committed workers," added Hurley. "It's critically important that we maintain training and adequate staffing levels so that we can quickly and effectively respond to the storms and extreme weather that will inevitably occur."
Another key issue at stake during negotiations is healthcare. Eversource wants to shift significant new healthcare costs onto workers.
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