The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300 and Central Vermont Public Service signed a four-year contract yesterday, following interest-based negotiations focused on win-win outcomes.
The new contract, affecting 221 unionized employees, was approved yesterday morning and takes effect at midnight Dec. 31, when the existing contract expires.
"The interest-based style of negotiating has proven effective in building and maintaining a relationship between the IBEW and CVPS," Local 300 President George Clain said. "It has instilled respect and openness and has allowed both sides to completely understand each other's needs--and work toward meeting those needs in a collaborative way."
CVPS President Bob Young praised negotiators on both sides, who worked with a Cornell University trainer to understand win-win negotiations. A non-union CVPS employee, Ross Schifo, served as facilitator. Union members suggested Schifo to moderate the discussions between negotiators.
"I think that speaks volumes about how far we've come in the past several years," CVPS President Bob Young said. "The union and management worked side by side to create an agreement that serves employees, the company and our customers. It provides employees with a fair package of benefits, while helping control costs for our customers."
The four-year contract is the longest in company history, the third reached through interest-based negotiating, and the third straight contract approved on the first vote of the union. Prior to the first use of the technique six years ago, negotiations were often filled with rancor, and every contract was rejected at least once.
The contract provides an annual 3.5% pay increase from 2005 through 2008, with some additional adjustments starting in 2006 for a few specific jobs, based on comparable utilities' wages. The parties also agreed to increase the company's match for 401K contributions from 4 to 4.25% in 2007, and to increase employee health care contributions, co-pays and prescription drug charges.