Xcel Energy seeks to provide all employees with a safe, rewarding workplace that values their contributions and ensures fair treatment. We respect our employees’ right to organize if desired, and approximately half of our workforce is currently represented by unions.
While each collective bargaining agreement is negotiated with a specific local union, we include equal opportunity clauses in all our bargaining contracts. We also operate in compliance with the policies of the National Labor Relations Board, the statutes of the National Labor Relations Act and the guidance of the federal Department of Labor.
Xcel Energy recognizes that all parties benefit by coming together to achieve mutual goals, so we meet at least monthly with our unions to discuss new and ongoing issues. Employee safety is a mutual focus for both bargaining units and the company. Bargaining unit employees fully support and participate in the company’s safety advisory councils, committees, training and other programs.
Interim bargaining has been used for the past 15 years to improve union relations and promote collaboration on business challenges that impact our operations and workforce. For instance, we frequently work on issues such as staffing plans for operational changes associated with large projects like Clean Air-Clean Jobs in Colorado, as well as workforce matters associated with topics like mutual aid storm assistance and rising healthcare benefit costs. We also hold regular meetings between management and labor unions to address grievances and avoid arbitration when possible.
In 2013, Xcel Energy successfully reached a new three-year contract with our unions in the Upper Midwest, with employees ratifying the agreement on the first vote. Parties are now engaged in negotiating a new contract with Colorado unions, as the current contract is set to expire May 31, 2014. Through the negotiations we hope to address challenges with medical and retirement benefits to better align them with what we offer employees in other areas, as well as what is offered by other utilities. Contracts with Texas and New Mexico bargaining units will expire toward the end of 2014, and we expect negotiations to begin this fall.