Bargaining News Roundup

UWUA expands representation of bulk power workers, wins critical victory in Philadelphia

Local 369’s 6-Year Battle to Represent Eversource’s Bulk Power Workers Ends in Victory!

When Local 369 filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to represent Eversource’s bulk power employees, the executive board  knew it was going to get major push-back from management.

What they didn’t know was that it would take six long years to get the 20 or so transmission system supervisors, senior transmission outage coordinators and transmission operations support specialists into the union and win their first contract.

Bulk power workers are highly skilled and highly paid. Eversource (then NSTAR) responded by challenging the petition on the grounds that the employees were supervisors or managers. Losing that battle, the company then filed a request for review.

After denying that request in January 2014, the NLRB conducted the union election the same day with employees voting unanimously to join Local 369.

Having lost its fight to deny these employees representation, the company then refused to bargain for a first contract. This left the local with no choice but to file a refusal to bargain charge. The NLRB sustained the charge and ordered the company to bargain. When the company continued to refuse to bargain, the NLRB’s general counsel filed an application to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking an enforcement order. The company then filed a cross-petition for review which the First Circuit denied.

Having lost the fight on the legal front, Eversource continued to delay the bargaining process.

When a new three-year contract for their 2,000-member unit was secured, Local 369 was finally able to get the company to seriously bargain, reaching an agreement that was unanimously approved. The three-year contract takes effect January 1, 2020.

Pictured above: Local 369’s Bulk Power workers, left to right, Local 369 executive board member Richie Hughes, Chris Hudson, Hector Quinonez, Dan Reilly, Dave Ward, Ryan Smith, Matt Gallerani, and Drew Matta.

——

Union Push in Philadelphia Secures Jobs for Gas Workers

UWUA Local 686 recently won a critical victory when the Philadelphia City Council voted to approve Philadelphia Gas Works’ (PGW) proposal to construct a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plant at its Passyunk facility.

This approval allows PGW, and its private partner, Liberty Energy Trust, to build the Passyunk Energy Center, to provide super-cooled methane gas to be sold to third parties, such as shipping and trucking enterprises and power plants.

PGW is the country’s largest publicly owned gas company and its employees are members of UWUA Local 686.

It is anticipated that the LNG plant will generate significant revenue for PGW, thereby delaying rate increases and providing more capital to finance future collective bargaining agreements with the union. The operation of this plant should also add jobs, and ensure that all the existing union gas supply jobs will continue.

This will also ensure that there is an adequate supply of LNG to reconvert to gas to meet peak winter capacity demands. Liberty Trust will finance the entire cost of the $60 million facility, which will produce 120,000 gallons of liquified natural gas per day.

While there was significant opposition from environmental groups to this project, the union was able to use its political influence to convince councilmembers it was not only good for PGW, but also positive for the city because LNG is a cleaner fuel than the fossil fuels it will replace. The inclusion of a significant solar project at the location likely reduces emissions of the plant itself to zero.

“Our role in securing approval of this project proves that unions can be a significant player in advancing clean energy projects that are better for the environment, while securing strong union jobs,” said Local 686 President Keith Holmes.