UI Employees, UWUA Local 470-1, and IBEW Local 40 Gather to Demonstrate Concerns Over Impacts to Employees and the Company in UI Rate Case
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — August 10, 2023 — Today, 162 employees of United Illuminating, a subsidiary of Avangrid (NYSE: AGR), together with members of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 470-1 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 40, rallied in front of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) headquarters prior to PURA’s Oral Arguments Hearing. In the hearing, UI attorneys and staff responded to PURA’s questions concerning the company’s Written Exceptions to PURA’s Draft Decision in the UI rate case (Docket Number 22-08-08 – “Application of the United Illuminating Company to Amend its Rate Schedule”).
B-ROLL and PHOTOS of the rally are available to download here.
“It speaks volumes that so many UI employees gathered outside of PURA today to rally against this detrimental draft decision,” said Frank Reynolds, President & CEO at UI. “If the draft decision is finalized in its current form, the harms to UI employees, customers, the company and Connecticut’s clean energy goals will be significant. Our 342,000 customers and our 1,800 Avangrid employees deserve better than this draft decision offers, and we urge PURA to take into consideration the concerns expressed in our Written Exceptions before issuing a final decision in the UI rate case.”
Rally attendees expressed particular concern over the impacts in the draft decision for both union and non-union UI employees. According to analysis by the company’s Regulatory experts, the draft decision defunds a portion of employee compensation; jeopardize employee benefits, including pensions for long-serving UI employees as well as incentive compensation; and eliminate funding for training. The draft decision also denies 60 percent of UI’s requested headcount increase, which has remained unchanged since 2016.
In addition, the draft decision disallows hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure investments already made and already serving customers. PURA also appears to assume that it can cut operating costs without consequence for customers. This is a false assumption. If UI cannot raise rates to at least cover inflation, much less invest in forward-looking grid modernization and innovation measures, customers could see lower-quality power while UI will struggle to maintain its financial integrity.
“This decision directly affects hardworking UI employees and the members of our union who serve on the company’s front lines,” said Jeffrey Cyr, Working Leader in the UI Line Department and chairperson of the Political Engagement Committee at UWUA Local 470-1. “By cutting benefits for employees and reducing UI’s headcount request, it will be harder than ever for UI to recruit and retain the workforce it needs to maintain our strong electric reliability for the customers we serve. With low headcount and no training, PURA’s draft decision also jeaopardizes the safety of all our linecrew, which is a complete abdication of the state’s responsibility. Plus, as the front-line employees at UI, our mission is to provide reliable service to our customers, and that will be impossible if UI can’t invest in the electric grid. To better serve both our union employees and customers, PURA must change its draft decision before finalizing it.”
To read UI’s Written Exceptions in full, please visit 22-08-08 UI Written Exceptions (8.7.23 FINAL).pdf (state.ct.us).