Connecticut Light and Power linemen overwhelmingly rejected a new contract offer from Northeast Utilities Friday.
Two International Brotherhood of Electrical Worker unions representing nearly 1,000 members rejected the offer, which included wage increases worth 10 percent over four years. But it was about more than salaries.
“It is unconscionable that as company executives rake in record salaries and bonuses, CL&P continues to cut staff, implement dangerous amounts of forced overtime, and replace skilled local workers with costly, inexperienced out-of-state contractors,” IBEW Local 420 and Local 457 said in a press release.
The number of trained lineworkers—a number that has dropped over the years—has long been a point of contention for the unions. The two unions have been working since June without a contract.
“We’re disappointed that union members voted “no” on CL&P’s comprehensive offer which included wage increases of 10 percent over four years,” Tricia Taskey Modifica, spokeswoman for Northeast Utilities, said Saturday. “This union has a history of voting multiple times, so we are still hopeful that we will come to an agreement. We will be talking to the union leadership to discuss the next steps and continue to work toward getting a contract in place.”
The two unions called on the utility to come back to the table to discuss staffing levels. The utility says union work rules make it difficult for them to allocate staff, but the union says the problem is it doesn’t have enough staff.
The unions rallied last month at the state Capitol with AT&T union members to call attention to the staffing issues. It’s a complaint they’ve been logging since last year’s two storms which knock out power to hundreds of thousands of customers.