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Union Approves New Contract with C L and P

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BERLIN, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s largest utility and the union that represents about 1,100 workers reached a contract agreement Thursday that proposes a wage increase of about 11 percent over four years.
Frank Cirillo, a business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said the deal was narrowly approved by 64 votes. He said while he’s glad the contract was accepted, there is lingering anger over staffing issues the union has blamed for hindering storm restoration efforts and overtaxing workers.
CL&P President and COO William Herdegen said in a statement Thursday night the contract “is good news” for employees and customers.
“We were committed to maintaining the comprehensive benefits offered by CL&P while improving service and holding the line on rising costs for our customers.”
The company said the contract also allows new schedules to meet service demands while reducing unplanned call-ins of off-duty workers. The union has said low staffing has meant workers have to be put on stand-by too often.
CL&P drew criticism from regulators, elected officials and some of its 1.2 million customers over slow response to restoring power following the two powerful storms in 2011. The union blames staff cuts, but CL&P said it brought in extra workers from out of state to help restore power.
Cirillo, business manager of Local 420, and John Fernandes, business manager of Local 457, issued a joint statement saying the union believes executive salaries and spending on out-of-state storm contractors has contributed to CL&P’s costs. The statement said the union is committed to working with elected officials and state regulators to ensure the company provides what the IBEW considers adequate staffing “to bring safe and reliable power to Connecticut ratepayers.”
Cirillo said earlier this week that the union is barred by federal law from striking over staffing issues. The union represents about 400 linemen and has said CL&P hasn’t filled 18 lineman vacancies.
Workers were without a contract since June, and rejected one in October.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. )

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