CenterPoint avoids strike after union workers vote to approve new contract

Jeff Ehling Image
Thursday, October 19, 2023
CenterPoint Energy union workers have issues with sick days, bonuses
CenterPoint Energy union workers are voting on a new contract proposal and deciding whether to authorize a strike based on paid sick days demands.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Wednesday vote avoided a potential strike by CenterPoint Energy's union employees after workers agreed to accept a contract offer, according to the company.

The video above is from a previous report.

ABC13 asked CenterPoint about the possibility of a strike before the results of the vote were revealed. The company said a strike would not have impacted the power coming to your house.

The union and the company had been in negotiations for several months when workers were given a reduced number of paid sick days.

Local 66 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, representing more than 1,400 CenterPoint workers, told ABC13's news partners at the Houston Chronicle they are grateful to avoid a strike.

A previous contract would have seen the first five sick days be unpaid. The union said "no" to that and wanted to base paid sick days on years of employment for those currently on the job.

According to the business manager for Local 66, Ed Allen, the new contract, which was seen as an improvement, takes away pay for the first five days of sick leave that workers take each year for union employees who start in January.

Nearly 80% of Local 66 members voted in support of the new contract, and about 20% voted to authorize a strike, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, according to the newspaper.

There were other issues leading up to Wednesday's vote, including proposed smaller pay increases, the proposed end to annual bonuses, and the disciplinary system for employee attendance.

Allen said the approved contract will take away 3% of unionized employees' annual bonuses based on good attendance and driving records.

The company removed a tiered disciplinary system for missing work, although, if work is missing, there will be no pay.

The approved deal also offers a smaller pay increase than the prior proposal, according to documents reviewed by the Chronicle.

CenterPoint Energy sent Eyewitness News the following statement after an agreement was made:

"We are pleased to share that we have reached an agreement with IBEW 66. Throughout the negotiation process, both parties have been fully committed to reaching an agreement that would continue our shared goal of positioning our company and employees for future success. We value and respect our highly skilled union colleagues for the work they do every day to keep the lights on for our millions of customers."

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