PSEG Long Island crew work on a utility pole on...

PSEG Long Island crew work on a utility pole on Route 25 in Cutchogue in 2015. Credit: Randee Daddona

Nearly 1,400 unionized PSEG Long Island workers have ratified a new four-year contract that provides for a cumulative 15.5% wage increase during the period, the company and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced.

PSEG and officials from the IBEW Local 1049 had been negotiating the labor contract since the summer, even as a state commission was considering the fate of PSEG’s future role at LIPA. PSEG’s separate contract to operate the Long Island grid for LIPA expires at the end of 2025. The commission is eyeing a plan that would put LIPA fully in charge of running the utility.

Patrick Guidice, business manager of Local 1049, said 536 members voted in favor of the new contract, while 329 voted against it. There are 1,397 unionized PSEG workers, 907 of whom participated in the ratification vote, Guidice said. Approximately 40 votes were voided for technical reasons.

Guidice said the wage increase, while it falls short of current inflation rates, was “acceptable to us.” The new contract also includes unspecified improvements in a pension for unionized workers.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Nearly 1,400 unionized PSEG Long Island workers have ratified a new four-year contract that provides for a cumulative 15.5% wage increase during the period.
  • The new contract also includes unspecified improvements in a pension for unionized workers.
  • PSEG’s contract to operate the Long Island grid for LIPA expires at the end of 2025 and a state commission is eyeing a plan that would put LIPA fully in charge of running the utility.

The contract also includes “increased cost-sharing” on medical benefits, Guidice said, but they were proportionate to increases PSEG was seeing in providing the medical plans. He said that contract talks were not contentious.

PSEG, in a statement, said the contract allows it to “control costs and continue to offer a market-competitive compensation and benefits package.”

Guidice and other labor leaders have been critical of the state commission’s plan to fully municipalize LIPA, one that would eliminate PSEG as the grid operator once the contract expires in 2025. After public hearings in September, the commission is working to come up with proposed legislation that would allow LIPA to fully operate the grid by taking command of the service entity that is currently under PSEG’s control, called Servco.

Guidice said he has been briefed on work to prepare the legislation and has been assured that it will include language that addresses the IBEW’s concern that workers might be converted to state employees or might lose collective bargaining power. Lawmakers and LIPA have said the final legislation would include those assurances.

PSEG opposes the plan to fully municipalize LIPA, saying that the current public-private partnership works best.

The commission’s consultants have said annual savings could top $80 million, with the bulk of that used to reduce future rates, but PSEG says unforeseen problems could erase the savings.

Rory Lancman, executive director of the state legislative commission on LIPA's future, said he expects to have hammered out a final report and proposed legislation to municipalize LIPA by month's end. He said language in the bill will address all the concerns of labor, and more. 

"The legislation the commission puts forward to transform LIPA into a true public-power entity will have the most labor-friendly provisions of any legislation introduced in the history of New York State," Lancman said Monday. "We are completely committed to protecting the wages, benefits and union rights" of all the utility's unionized employees. 

As for the newly negotiated contract, PSEG Long Island interim president Dave Lyons, in a statement released by the company, said it “provides continued stability and strengthens the partnership between the company, its employees and IBEW Local 1049.”

LIPA chief executive Tom Falcone, in a statement, said the new contract “recognizes the dedication and contributions of Pat Guidice and the members of IBEW Local 1049 in serving Long Island and the Rockaways and always putting electric customers first."

The contract remains in place through Nov. 13, 2027. 

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