New Contract for Jersey City Veolia Workers

Workers responsible for water treatment, distribution maintenance, and wastewater services for Jersey City’s 280,000 businesses and residents recently ratified a new four-year agreement, winning substantial gains in wages and other areas.

The agreement holds particular significance for the 40 workers represented by Local 375. It was the first time they bargained with Veolia Water. Five years ago, when they last bargained, the city’s water service was owned by Suez.

The workers had two main contract goals: 1) establish a four-year term; and 2) better pay. They achieved both. They’ll see significant compensation increases through a combination of guaranteed annual wage increments totaling 15.5% over the life of the agreement and the introduction of hourly certification premiums.

Local 375 represents 315 members at various Veolia locations in New Jersey. Bill Foley has been with the local for 38 years and served as its president for the past 15. He is pleased that this contract sets a new standard for the Jersey City workers: “Historically, wages for Jersey City workers trailed those of other Veolia units. However, we made great strides toward closing this gap with the current contract.” The unanimous ratification voiced members’ satisfaction with the outcome.

Foley said winning certification pay is a huge win for this group and should help Veolia retain qualified workers. The premiums vary based on the certification held, ranging from $0.50/hour for backflow preventer and pesticides to $3.00/hour for those with T4 water treatment/W4 sewer treatment licenses. Workers mandated to hold certifications for their roles will receive the full premium, while those with certifications not essential to their job classification will receive half the premium.

Additionally, the contract includes significant improvements in the ways overtime and emergency standby pay are calculated and enhancements to meal and shoe allowances.

Reflecting on the negotiation process, Foley remarked, “Negotiating with Veolia proved to be a more constructive experience compared to dealings with Suez. Veolia demonstrated a willingness to reach an agreement that was mutually beneficial.”

Foley was backed by committee members Ed Rubenacker, Jim Lagrossa, John Peterson, Mariano Candela, Nick Minunni, Christopher Patel, Damien Jamison, and retired member Robert Hansen. He expressed gratitude to UWUA National Representative Shawn Garvey for his invaluable guidance throughout the process.