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Union Workers Begin Strike At N.H. Electric Cooperative

IBEW Local 1837

Union workers are on strike at the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative as of Monday.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represents about 85 of the cooperative’s employees, including all of its linemen.

Local 1837 business manager Dick Rogers says negotiations on their next collective bargaining agreement fell apart after the utility wanted to retain the right to alter workers’ pension plans “at any time, for any reason” in future.

Rogers says it shows “disrespect” for the workers who walked off the job Monday.

"They're not going to take this,” Rogers says. “I mean, there's just no way they can accept language like this."

The workers remained on the job through this past weekend's stormy weather, despite a stalemate in negotiations last week – but Rogers says the utility didn’t come through with substantial changes.

"They moved the chairs around on the Titanic – that's all they did,” he says. “I just think that they bargained in bad faith.”

He says this is the IBEW's first strike anywhere in at least three decades across his local’s territory, which covers 1,600 electrical workers in New Hampshire and Maine.

The Plymouth-based Electric Cooperative serves about 84,000 customers in more than 100 New Hampshire towns.

Spokesman Seth Wheeler says in a statement that the cooperative “remains committed to working with the union,” though no new negotiations are yet scheduled.

“The company has requested the assistance of a federal mediator,” he told NHPR. “We expect the mediator here this week.”

He says the utility will bring in private contractors to work with non-union employees on any power outage calls, and they don’t expect any interruptions to service.  

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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