22 Aug 2014
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Aresimowicz Calls for Meeting with Northeast Utilities on IT Outsourcing

The Berlin-based electric provider said reports of outsourcing are premature as it moves forward with a “slow and deliberate approach” to the merger – but reports that hundreds of jobs could head overseas has the Majority Leader concerned.

Aresimowicz Calls for Meeting with Northeast Utilities on IT Outsourcing
Hundreds of jobs could soon be leaving Connecticut as a merger between Northeast Utilities and NSTAR continues to push forward, but House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz is asking for a sit down with company officials before any rash changes are made.

Aresimowicz reached out to officials with Northeast Utilities Monday, the parent company of electric provider Connecticut Light & Power, demanding a meeting and saying any decision to outsource jobs could have a negative impact not only on jobs, but response times in the event of another major disaster.

“It’s unclear what the decision making process might be and whether any outsourcing would be consistent with the terms of agreement (related to the merger),” said Aresimowicz, who represents Berlin and Southington. “These aren’t just Connecticut jobs we’d be losing. These are critical staff that play an important role in the event of a weather-related emergency.”

In a weekend article published by the Hartford Courant, reports indicated that the company is looking to potentially outsource hundreds of jobs from within the Northeast Utilities and NSTAR information technology division.

Al Lara, spokesman for Northeast Utilities, confirmed Monday that the company has had discussions regarding such outsourcing but also said no final decisions have been made. The company is currently working directly with the state Attorney General and Consumer Counsel to answer questions and concerns before a final decision is made.

The reasoning behind the move lies in a merger between the two utility giants last year, but moves being made are deliberate, calculated and done with the best intentions of the company and its customers and employees in mind, Lara said.

“It is a simple matter,” Lara said Monday afternoon. “When we merged, the company did so with comprehensive agreements and a concentrated effort to deliver real savings to our customers.”

“We are going to become a more efficient organization and since the merger began, the company has taken a slow and deliberate approach to the process to not just effect change but make changes for better,” Lara said.

The changes include efforts to consolidate services that may be duplicated between departments, much as any organization public or private has done during the economic downturn, Lara said. There is currently no timetable or number of jobs that could be potentially outsourced, he said.

Aresimowicz said such a change could be disastrous for the customer – as well as for local towns including Berlin and Southington that have countless residents employed by the company.

The biggest concern, aside from economic effects, lies in the fact that the company received terrible grades in storm responses following Tropical Storm Irene and the October Snowstorm. Aresimowicz said although not directly responsible for corrections, the company has used these employees in response to storm emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy, drastically improving scores and receiving passing grades from PURA.

“Without these employees, is there a plan in place that would prevent eight days without power as we’ve had in the past?” Aresimowicz said.

Lara said Monday that the company is already working hand-in-hand with the Attorney General and Consumer Counsel regarding these concerns and would not make a change unless it is one that benefits the consumers as well as the company.

He said it is a business decision, however, and something the company must look at seriously with all options and possible outcomes on the table.

“All staffing changes within the company, whether it is a major overhaul or just simple job changes, retirees and attrition, is provided to the state on a quarterly basis,” Lara said. “All aspects with the entire company, from the very start of this merger our focus been on trying to marry together the two companies to make the best organization we can.”

Aresimowicz said he still wants a sit down with the company and will make himself available if and when they are able to do so.

"I have reached out with all my personal contact information and made it known I would drop what I am doing to meet up with them," Aresimowicz said. "This is a service that affects every constituent and I want to make sure that if anything is done, it is done right."

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