With pension concerns at the center, the local 1837 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers went on strike Monday.

According to the Union Leader, more than 80 people who work for the New Hampshire  Electric Co-op are now on strike, and requesting a federal mediator in ongoing talks over a contract. At this time, there are no new negotiating sessions are scheduled.

The current contact had been working on extension, as per their website, "the Union agreed to extend the previous contract until today due to the company’s promise to bring something to this morning’s bargaining session with a substantial change that would make us happy.  We can’t help but think this tactic was just a way to have our members around for this past weekend’s storms."

As of this morning, the "NHEC representatives refused to back off their demand that that they have the unilateral right to modify or eliminate 401(k) or pension plans without first negotiating with the Union. In other areas, the Union previously agreed to almost all of the company’s proposals - including flexibility."

Per the Union Leader, the NHEC stated "“Representatives of NHEC and the union have met 18 times in the past several months to arrive at a contract agreement,” the co-op said. “The company has offered union members the same pension and 401k benefits that are currently offered to non-union employees, but the union rejected that offer last week because the company wanted to reserve the right to change the benefit in the future if it became necessary to change it for non-union employees.”

NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 84,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities.