PLYMOUTH, NH – Union employees of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) will return to work on Tuesday, May 22 following a unanimous vote today by the NHEC Board of Directors to approve a new three-and-a-half-year employment contract.
Eighty-three union employees, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local #1837, have been on strike since May 7, 2018. Company and union representatives reached a tentative agreement last week on 401k and pension benefits for union employees, removing the primary obstacle to a contract agreement. The company had offered union employees the same benefits package as non-union employees, but its proposal retained the right to make changes to the benefits plan if it became necessary to make the same changes to benefits for non-union employees. The union objected to the company’s proposal, claiming it would not bargain away its right to negotiate future changes in benefits.
On May 16, with the help of a federal mediator, the two sides reached a tentative agreement that does not include the language that the union had objected to and provides for modest increases in pay, 401K and pension benefits. The union employees, which include all NHEC lineworkers, ratified the agreement last week. All union employees are expected to be back on the job on the morning of May 22.
NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 84,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities.