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NHEC Union Strike

Frequently Asked Questions
(updated May 11, 2018)

BACKGROUND

NHEC has approximately 200 employees, of which 83 are union employees who are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local #1837.  A long-term contract between the union and NHEC – called a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) – was set to expire on April 30, 2018.  Nearly 20 negotiation sessions were held prior to the expiration of the CBA in order to establish a new contract.  On May 3, 2018, the IBEW Local #1837 voted to reject the company’s final proposals. Further talks did not produce an agreement, and on May 7, 2018, union employees went on strike. In general, strikes and picketing are protected activities under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).

Q: What is the issue?

During negotiations, the union negotiating committee expressed its desire to bring union and non-union employee benefits in line with each other.  NHEC took this request seriously and offered union members the same pension and 401k benefits as are offered to non-union employees, including management employees at NHEC.  Unfortunately, that offer was rejected by the union on May 3rd. At issue is the union’s objections to the company’s proposal that it be able to make changes to the pension plan at the same time changes are made to the pension plan for non-union employees. Any changes would be made with the intent of maintaining the same pension and 401k benefits for all NHEC employees.

Q: What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process through which a group of employees represented by a union negotiate with their employer about the terms and conditions of their employment. The NLRA gives workers the right to organize, to join unions, and to collectively bargain. Both a union and an employer have an obligation to bargain in “good faith.”

Q: Can workers be fired for going on strike?

Typically, workers cannot be fired for going on strike. The NLRA protects the right of workers to strike and prohibits employers from terminating employees for exercising this right.

Q: How long will a strike last?
The duration of a strike is difficult to predict.

Q: How will the strike be resolved?
NHEC will continue to negotiate in good faith with the union until the parties reach a new contract.  The parties engaged a federal mediator in an effort to resolve the dispute.

Q: When will the two sides get back to the bargaining table?

Both parties are working with the mediator and continued discussions on Friday, May 11th

Q: How does the strike impact operations?

NHEC activated a contingency plan that provides coverage for power outages and protects public safety. Certified line crews were engaged and are being accompanied on any outage calls by non-union NHEC employees who are familiar with the service territory. NHEC’s Control Center is still staffed 24 hours a day, and members should still report outages to the NHEC outage line at 1-800-343-6432.

Much of NHEC’s day-to-day business is not impacted by the strike. Services like billing and payment processing are not impacted. The Member Solutions call center is fully staffed and open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-800-698-2007. NHEC’s energy efficiency rebate programs are also unaffected.

Depending on the duration of the strike, there may be some delay in the performance of service work. If you have questions about an open service order, you can call NHEC Member Solutions at 1-800-698-2007. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience as we respond to this unusual situation.