National Grid’s unionized workforce voted overwhelmingly to approve a recent contract proposal, averting the prospect of a strike of the Island’s natural gas distribution and power plant operations.
A four-year contract that guarantees the 1,150 workers annual increases of 3% was passed Friday by 93% of the workers, who are represented by Local 1049 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Unionized workers had been operating under an extension of their prior contract until ratification, and had earlier voted to authorize a strike if an agreement wasn’t reached by a mid-February deadline. Ratification ends that prospect.
Around 69% of workers participated in the mail-in ballot vote, said Patrick Guidice, the union’s business manager, who called it the largest turnout for a contract vote. "It signified the rank and file were energized, and an overwhelming majority were satisfied with the agreement," he said.
The contract includes a continuation of the company’s existing medical plan, but with more employee contribution toward the cost. Guidice declined to be more specific but said members "believe it’s a fair share."
Pension-plan contribution will stay the same, he said, and there are job protections against layoffs.
In a statement, National Grid said it was "pleased" the union ratified the contract, which "delivers job security, fair wage increases, maintains retirement and medical benefits, and provides for operational enhancements. We value our partnership and look forward to continuing our productive working relationship with our union employees."