Con Ed Lockout Ends as Storm Approaches
July 26, 2012 1:48 pm
A tentative agreement ended a bitter 26-day lockout of 8.500 Consolidated Edison workers today in New York City. Negotiations between Utility Workers Union of America 1-2 and Consolidated Edison reached a fever pitch this morning as a storm approached New York City, and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo pressured the provider to end the lockout amidst public safety concerns.
In a hearing yesterday, Governor Cuomo reprimanded the energy company, addressing Con Ed in a letter to the Public Service Commission thusly: “In the case of the current ConEd lockout, it would be a failure to serve the public to respond only after a blackout or serious safety incident that occurs due to the labor dispute.”
Con Ed’s ability to safely service the grid has been called into question, with just 5,000 managers working to cover the duties of the 8,500 locked out workers. The back and forth from yesterday’s hearing reflected these concerns:
Con Edison Vice President John Miksad defended the company’s safety record during the lockout. ‘This is the safest Con Edison has ever been,’ he said.
Local 1-2 president Harry Farrell disagreed. ‘The scabs the company is bringing in from around the country don’t know how to work on our system,” he said. Twelve managers have been seriously injured during the lockout, including one sent to the hospital with burns to his face.’
Con Ed customers have weathered several voltage reductions, or “brownouts,” during July’s heatwave, but it was the threat of a severe thunderstorm with hail and high winds that finally spurred Cuomo to order representatives from the Utility Workers Union and Con Ed to meet today. The two sides initially reached an agreement for 3,000 of the locked out workers to report to work for the duration of the storm and its aftermath, yet at a 2:45 ET press conference, Governor Cuomo announced that the lockout was over.
No details were offered on the terms of the agreement or compromises reached on divisive issues, such as pension modifications and employee healthcare contributions. But as Cuomo reported in this afternoon’s press conference, “the storm brought us together.”
Image from here