NEWS ROUNDUP: Small Unit Sets High Bar for First Contract Negotiation in NJ

Bordentown members benefit from employer-paid training, greater voice in new four-year agreement

Bordentown members give a thumbs up to their first contract as UWUA members.

Local 601 members recently wrapped up their first contract negotiations with the Bordentown Sewerage Authority. The four-year agreement sets a strong foundation for the unit of nine members who run the town’s wastewater plant and also perform public works maintenance.

The vote for UWUA representation back in June 2021 was spurred by a desire for a greater voice at work and in response to managers paying themselves bonuses while leaving workers behind. For these individuals, benefits are determined by the state of New Jersey, so bargaining focused on wages, differentials, and non-economic areas.

Quentin Nixon, who was elected by his peers to the four-person negotiating committee, said members are thrilled and voted unanimously to accept the agreement: “We won a fantastic first contract! The new agreement includes annual three percent wage increases and longevity bonuses, improved new hire rates, provides additional paid holidays, more money for work boots, and establishes many work rule improvements.”

Importantly, Bordentown agreed to fully pay for all training needed to acquire up to eight levels of certification, and once licenses are earned, members are eligible for additional pay bumps of $0.60/hour for each of the first six licenses and $0.85/hour for the final two.

“Under this agreement, a member who earns all licenses will earn $5.30 more per hour than they did before joining the UWUA — and that’s on top of the across-the-board percentage increases and longevity bonuses we won,” said Local 601 President Noel Christmas. “With Bordentown now paying the full freight of the training, it costs members nothing but their time to earn the licenses and then the higher pay.”

In terms of non-economic gains, Nixon said members are most pleased that their new agreement establishes a safety team that gives union members an equal voice with management. “We now have a formal structure that creates much-needed accountability on safety issues.”