Pennichuck Employee Union Sues Nashua Telegraph Over Salary Info

s_falko / Flickr

Pennichuck's employee union is suing the Telegraph to keep their salary information secret

When Nashua bought the private water utility Pennichuck Corp., the town created an unorthodox setup.  As David Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph explains:

“It is believed that Nashua is the only city in the country that owns a private water utility that is supervised by an independent board but still answers to state regulators, while serving customers outside of the city. Other communities operate municipal water works that are clearly part of local government and subject to the Right-to-Know Law, for example in Milford, or are served by private water companies which are not subject to the state law.”

So naturally, the Telegraph filed a Right-to-Know request to get information on salaries for management and other employees who are now, (it appears) suddenly public workers.  Like many newspapers, the Telegraph periodically publishes the salary information of government employees.

But given the utility’s oddball setup with Nashua, unionized Pennichuck employees filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court to keep their salaries quiet:

“The lawsuit argues that even though the city now owns Pennichuck, the company does not fall under the state Right-to-Know law’s definition of a ‘public body’ that must release such information….The suit…argues that although Pennichuck Corp. and Pennichuck Water Works are now owned by the city of Nashua, they ‘are not public bodies required to disclose compensation’ under state law, RSA 91-A.

The suit was filed on behalf of Local 8938 of the United Steel Workers, which represents ‘a majority of the employees’ of Pennichuck Corp. and Pennichuck Water Works…

The lawsuit argues that ’employees will suffer irreparable harm if their payment and other compensation, which information is private and with respect to which the employees have had an ongoing expectation of privacy, is disclosed to the public.’ The lawsuit asks the court to halt the release temporarily, then schedule a hearing about making the injunction permanent.”

The Telegraph piece also features a link to a copy of the lawsuit.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »