NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT: Continuing a Family Legacy Built on Strong Union Values

National Vice President, Craig Pinkham

I am humbled and honored by the overwhelming support and faith to be elected to this new role as vice president. I look forward to serving our union and all UWUA’s members across this country. I wanted to use my first column in The Utility Worker to introduce myself and offer insight into the experience I bring to this position.

As a second-generation utility worker, my family’s ties to the UWUA began a generation ago. My father is a 40-year member of Local 369 and my mother has been a member for more than 23 years; they both started with Boston Edison. My brother, who is also a member of Local 369, and I are fourth-generation union members; our grandparents and great-grandparents were members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Everything that our parents and grandparents provided for our family was earned through collective bargaining: fair union wages, good benefits, and safe working conditions. My wife Deirdre is a third-generation City of Boston police officer, and we have four young daughters.

I started my utility sector career as a college co-op summer intern working in the call center at Boston Edison in Boston, Massachusetts. I have worked at Eversource Energy for 22 years in represented positions such as power system operator in the control center, overhead line worker, underground line worker, and customer service. Working in the control center is where I used the experiences in my prior classifications to gain valuable knowledge by working together in a team environment and listening to my colleagues in the field. Our control centers provide safety and security for not only our union brothers and sisters but also for the public and the communities we all serve.

I am enormously proud to help lead a union where my parents, my brother, and my uncle were members.

I was first elected president of Local 369 in 2015, after serving four years as secretary-treasurer. I have a business administration degree from Suffolk University, graduated from the Harvard Trade Union Program and completed the Cornell University National Labor Leadership Initiative program.

As president of Local 369 for over 6 years, I bargained more than 50 contracts for our 3,000 members in 22 different collective bargaining contracts with 13 public and private sector employers. Our companies include independent fossil generating facilities, local utility companies, utility construction companies, communication companies, municipalities, a nuclear power plant, and global energy companies.

I attribute our success negotiating to partnership building, bargaining committee education and intense member engagement, which I worked hard to grow as both treasurer and president of Local 369. I led a team that brought tremendous experience and subject matter expertise to each negotiation. There were times our bargaining committees made difficult decisions such as changing existing health care plan designs or adding the option of a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP). As utility workers we are sometimes resistant to change, but there were times we fought hard and bargained protections in our contracts that allowed us to maintain our benefits.

Throughout my life – starting with sharing stories about what it means to be a union member with my parents around the dinner table, onto my earliest days on the job as a utility worker and through to my election as a local officer and Local 369 president – I have shared the same setbacks and victories that our members experience every day. I have felt the pain of seeing a parent injured on the job. I have witnessed the anguish and distress a nuclear plant closure causes by seeing it end my uncle’s 46-year UWUA career. Also, I have felt the triumph of many hard-fought victories during contract negotiations and seen incremental wins secured at the bargaining table translate to more dignity and respect at work.

I have also seen my family and friends comfortably step into retirement and take full advantage of decades of hard-earned benefits from good, secure, family-supporting careers. I want the same benefits for all of our members.

Little did I know that a $15/hour summer co-op job at the utility company would lead to a 20-plus year career in the utility sector. I am enormously proud to help lead a union where my parents, my brother, and my uncle were members. Today I stand ready to bring all this experience to my new role, and I look forward to meeting all of you to see where this next phase will take all of us, together.