Members of Local 609 working for Northern Pipeline recently settled a new four-year agreement that delivers a 6% wage increase in its first year and 3% in each subsequent year — all in all, 15.8% when compounded over the full term. Members will also see a 20% increase in employer contributions to their 401(k) retirement plan — from $1.25 to $1.50 per hour worked, and the contract maintains full-family health benefits with no member premium contributions.
The local’s 150 members work out of Berlin and Woodbridge, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, doing gas line construction.
Roger Oldenburg, the local’s president, said it took about 4 months to reach a deal that members could support: “In the end, we got a great contract with no givebacks, but getting there wasn’t easy.” Members voted down the company’s first proposal which had wage increases of only 2%. The final agreement was ratified unanimously at the end of February, one week prior to the March 1 expiration.
Aside from wages, members sought more time off. Oldenburg explained that the local’s work used to be more seasonal in nature, with members having several weeks a year with no work. Now, Northern Pipeline has year-round contracts with Eversource, and members found they had too few days off. To address this, they negotiated a third week of vacation for members with 10 years of service and maintained their PTO.
Oldenburg has been president for only two years, so this contract was the first negotiated by him and his board. The committee included Matt MacCracken, Local 609’s secretary-treasurer; vice presidents George Arms and Josh Sperlunto; and UWUA National Representative Dan Hurley. Oldenburg said, “It was a group effort. I’m proud to say that everyone’s opinion counted, and everyone had a say.”