Arbitrator Blocks Eversource From Assigning Contractors To Perform Critical Valve Replacement Work Normally Performed By Unionized Employees
On October 21, 2021, a neutral arbitrator ordered Eversource to cease and desist from assigning contractors to perform critical valve replacement work that had traditionally been performed by bargaining unit employees. Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon O'Connell represented USW Local 12004 in the successful arbitration case.
Local 12004 and Eversource have consistently locked horns over the Company's excessive use of contractors -- particularly in the wake of the statewide Gas System Enhancement Program (GSEP). But when the Company started using GSEP as an excuse to let contractors overrun traditional bargaining unit work, the Union fought back, particularly as relates to assignments having nothing to do with replacement of aging gas mains. The Company defended its improper contracting out here by suggesting that these type of valve replacements don't happen often enough to create a past practice, but the Arbitrator disagreed, finding that the frequency of the projects is immaterial so long as the Union workers were the ones who performed them when they occurred. The Arbitrator also rejected the Company's absurd suggestion that the replacement of the small amount of gas main necessary to install the new valve somehow turned the project into a large scale main replacement that could be assigned to contractors
Ultimately, the Arbitrator ordered the Company to cease and desist from the improper assignments and to allow Unionized employees to perform this work.