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HomeServe's unionized workers likely to approve contract, return to work

IBEW 1049 Union members picket along Rte. 110

IBEW 1049 Union members picket along Rte. 110 and Michael Avenue in Farmingdale, Sept. 18. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

HomeServe's unionized technicians and mechanics are slated to vote on a contract Thursday that could end a more than weeklong worker lockout at a company that installs and repairs residential heating and air conditioning systems, a union leader said.

After unsuccessful contract negotiations, the company shut out IBEW Local 1049 workers when their collective bargaining agreement expired on Sept. 13, HomeServe spokesman Myles Meehan said. The union represents all 81 of the nonsupervisory employees at the national firm's Long Island outpost, so supervisors stepped in during their absence, Local 1049 business manager Patrick Guidice said.

The two parties now have a proposed agreement that Guidice thinks members will approve on Thursday.

"We believe we have that worked out," said Guidice, adding that Local 1049 workers would stop picketing along Broadhollow Road, which is a few blocks from HomeServe's Farmingdale location.

On Sept. 9, Local 1049 members rejected a different contract proposal, which Meehan said contained wage, benefit and training enhancements. The workers have been doing "excessive" mandatory overtime and were not satisfied with how the contract approached the issue, Guidice said.

"I can't put a number on it," Guidice said when asked about recent overtime assignments. "They know that in the springtime when people are turning on their A/C systems, there's problems, and they're going to be required to work overtime. And the same thing goes in fall time, when people are turning on their heating systems. They understand that, and they don't have a problem with that."

Meehan said mandatory overtime is necessary to serve customers during peak periods, but that the total amount of overtime hasn't varied significantly over the past several years. Many workers volunteer to work such overtime, he added.

"The original tentative agreement contained terms designed to reduce, mitigate or potentially eliminate mandatory overtime over time and the new tentative agreement added additional terms to provide more immediate relief to the membership’s concerns," Meehan wrote in an email.

Guidice declined to discuss how the new agreement handles overtime until he had a chance to meet and brief members.

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