“NStar DENIES CHANGING RETIREE BENEFITS”
To Whom It May Concern: I am writing
to inform you of the article in your paper dated May 17, 2005. The
Standard-Times quote stated, “But NStar denies having changed retiree benefits.”
Well they most certainly did change the retirees’ benefits on April 1, 2003. All
retirees’ had their benefits changed from Master Medical to a lesser package
from our original insurance company. We, the retiree’s went to Boston and fought
in court over NStar’s plan to take away our original benefits. The Local 369
helped us all the way, because they believed what we had bargained for in good
faith. The company and union fought to keep negotiated benefits intact, but
NStar did not care about its retirees (much like they don’t now) and they were
willing to put up a big sum of money to win against the retirees’ and the great
Local 369. If it wasn’t for Local 369 helping all the retirees’ we would have
never been able to proceed with such a costly case. Over a year later, the judge
told us (retirees’) that we lost our battle, which was not a surprise to me
because I’m sure they (NStar) knew that they would win from the start. The point
that I am trying to make is that NStar is not a company that you as an employee
can trust. I retired from the company after 30 years of dedicated service to
them and was promised certain health benefits. These benefits were not to be
changed and would remain the way they were just like when I was working. I
signed in good faith and NStar did not keep their end of the agreement. This
agreement was made and was bargained with the company and the union. Under this
new contract they also took away our vision benefits but of course, who needs
vision anyway? I fully and wholeheartedly support the employees that are
striking, and I also wish it didn’t have to be this way either. As I have
mentioned earlier however, NStar does not keep their word. There is no way that
NStar management can do the work at the jobs that belong to our great, dedicated
and trained employees of Local 369. In closing, I hope that NStar does the right
thing and listens to this union and gets these committed, qualified employees
back to work before it is too late and someone gets seriously hurt, because of
lack of knowledge and training.
Retiree Elizabeth Mitchell
I wish to comment on a letter written by Robert Brown, of Mattapoisett.
Corporate greed has taken over in this country, and it is the Union workers who
are being treated like second class citizens when they are , in fact, the
backbone of our workforce. My husband is an Underground Cable Splicer, working
on transformers, , manholes in the streets, and on an occasional underwater
cable fault. It is very dangerous work, ( as a matter of fact it was listed as
one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the country recently), but he loves his
job, and has been a dedicated, loyal employee of New Bedford Gas & Edison Light
Co./ Com Electric/ NSTAR (De-regulation, you gotta love it!) for thirty years.
There has always been compromise when it came to negotiating a contract,
including taking a six-year contract with NO pay raise in exchange for leaving
healthcare and other bennefits alone. Now, since Tom May has taken over NSTAR,
so has corporate greed. NSTAR stock has been at record high prices, and Mr.May
has been rewarded..amply. He gets paid several million a year, has a limosine
and driver, a suite of offices in the Prudential Center in Boston, when he could
at least operate out of the new NSTAR compound in Westwood...you know, the one
that replaced the perfectly good headquarters they have left vacant in Wareham.
All at the expense of rate-payers! NSTAR has been ignoring much needed
up-grading and repair to its infrastructure, and if you think that Boston is the
only place a dog can get electrocuted, think again. NSTAR claims that safety is
a priority, but its understaffed work force faces unsafe conditions every day,
and the company rarely acts on worker's requests to address the problem, unless
faced with a lawsuit. It takes years to train a skilled cable splicer or
lineman, able to work in all kinds of weather and conditions. My husband's
department has been cut in half, with only a little over a dozen people to
handle all the underground work for this enitre area. More work, with less
people to do it with equals more NSTAR profit, a dangerous equation. The people
I hear complain about NSTAR and other Union workers being on strike are the same
people who think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars to go to a sporting
event to watch someone who gets paid millions to throw a ball or swing a bat.
You pay nearly the highest electric rates in the country, but don't care that
the people who work in the trenches, keeping your lights on, fighting crime in
our streets, and keep us safe from fire and storms, are being treated so
unfairly. NSTAR can well afford to hire more help and provide healthcare to its
workforce. Two thousand NSTAR workers have been on strike for nearly two weeks,
with no health insurance. Let me know if you see a cut in your utility bill
reflecting the money saved by NSTAR this month.
I sit here writing this letter as a northeaster is raging outside. It is the
first time in almost 32 years I cannot serve you. I have been with you, employed
by New Bedford Gas and Edison Light Co., Corn Electric, and now unfortunately
To me it is not about the money. I have served you through many hard times. To
mention a few would be the Blizzard of 1978, climbing poles on Mattapoisett Neck
to restore your power in 85 mph winds. Then again more recently, The Blizzard of
2005, crossing the Bourne Bridge at 5 a.m. in two-plus feet of snow and 60 mph
winds in whiteout conditions to dispatch your dedicated line workers to restore
Then again in Plymouth, working long hours away from my family as they also sit home without power. NStar workers will sometimes work in these conditions for 24 to 32 hours at a time.
In my almost 32 years working for you, there have been many times I have breathed a sigh of relief that I made it home to my family in one piece. But that is my job. When I restore power, I see the relieved faces of the elderly and young children as the lights go back on. You don't want greedy replacement workers, you want your neighbors and friends back on their jobs serving NStar customers well.
JOHN W. KERSHAW
This is a response to a letter from Robert Brown that ran in Wednesday's
about unions and middle-class people in America. I am particularly burned with
his statement that unions are saying, "Give me more money for less work." He
could not be further from the truth in any of these occupations. If he thinks
trying to teach children in any size classroom is easy, he should spend some
time here. Or maybe staring down the barrel of a gun falls into his "soft work "
category. Or going into a burning building to save a cat. Or caring for the sick
and dying. Even being told that we don't know when we will be making it home
because there is a thunderstorm or some other natural disaster about to occur.
are not migrant workers or illegal.
We live and work by standards our forefathers gave their blood and sweat for.
Maybe if NStar came down a little on their "bottom line" million-dollar profits
you might see electric rates go down. The "do more with less" attitude
compromises everyone's safety in these occupations. So much for "soft work
rules." Next time you have an opinion on unions, I hope you do your homework,
hopefully with the lights on, with police and fire ready and standing by 24
making sure no one is robbing you or burning your house down,
hopefully not shorthanded.
RANDALL J. ROSS
Editor's note: Mr. Rossi is a crew leader for NStar.
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