NRG Energy Contract Ratified
Message from Business Manager Jeff Davis
Yesterday, Thursday October 9th, the membership of Local 29 that work at NRG Energy's Cheswick and Brunot Island Power Stations and Mobile Maintenance, attended meetings to hear the details of the then tentative six year agreement with NRG which will replace the agreement that expired on September 30th. The meetings were held at the Krivan Hall in Springdale, PA. Four separate meetings were held to accommodate workers on all shifts and to allow the Brunot Island and the Mobile Maintenance workers time to travel to Springdale.
The six year agreement has wage increases of 2.5% in each of the first three years and 2.9% in each of the last three years. Shift differential increases a nickel in each year of the contract along with two one dollar increases in meal allowance.
This was the first contract negotiations between Local 29 and NRG since they took over the former GenOn Energy. Every time we have a new employer, they want to bring in their philosophies on policies, procedures and benefits. The difficulty in these negotiations was with the benefits. We have very expensive first dollar coverage health plans for these members. NRG has a platform of benefits that they use across the country for their 8,000 employees and they wanted to force our members into these plans immediately. We did work out a reasonable transition from the existing benefits to these platform plans over the term of the agreement.
This Company also wanted to eliminate the existing Retiree Medical payment system. We worked out a compromise to keep the existing system until December 31, 2016. Starting January 1, 2017, retirees will only be able to have three years of medical coverage when they retire. Retiree Life Insurance will continue until September 30, 2019, beginning October 1, 2019, retiree life insurance is eliminated.
The existing Drug and Alcohol Policy that was in the contract will be replaced with language that is more in line with NRG's corporate policy. While the verbiage is different, the general idea of a drug free workplace remains. A few changes are that employees will have a choice for random tests of the standard urinalysis or oral swabs for the test. Also a positive test will still require rehabilitation to maintain employment, but there will no longer be any required suspension for first time offenses, employees will be permitted to use sick or vacation time until they are cleared to return to work.
The Local 29 members that work in the Company's Mobile Maintenance Department had their own set of issues that needed to be addressed. Issues with travel to the more distant locations were addressed with per diem and travel expense changes in the new agreement. Language to improve the interaction with the state unemployment system when on seasonal lay off was also improved. Language was obtained that addresses the replacement of Local 29 members in Mobile Maintenance when members leave or bid into one of the plants. A schedule of mandated meetings was established to resolve several ongoing issues for our Mobile membership.
There were also a number of other changes, improvements in the 401K match, and LTD coverage along with a number of other clarifications and minor changes.
The members cast their votes for ratification at the conclusion of each meeting. 68% of those voting, voted to accept the new agreement. The actual vote total was 52 to accept and 24 to reject.