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State Lawmakers Examine Con Ed Lockout Response

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The State Assembly held hearings Wednesday to look into Consolidated Edison's service and safety record during the current labor dispute. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Ostensibly, the hearing was to focus on the safety of workers. But Consolidated Edison's unionized workers, who packed the State Assembly hearing room, had other ideas, at times interrupting the testimony of Con Edison executive John Miksad.

Miksad said at the hearing that despite record demand for energy this summer, the contractors brought in from out of state have been able to handle potential problems with the power grid.

"I think they might have done well during these heat waves and some of this extraordinary weather that we've been having but I don't think its sustainable," said Assemblyman Keith Wright.

"First of all, they brought in scabs," said UWUA Local 1-2 President Harry Farrell. "These guys are non-union contractors from Virginia and Alabama. This is who they brought in here to work on our system. These guys don't have a clue."

Miksad admitted that contractors were being put up in hotels and having their expenses covered. a cost that will be passed along to ratepayers.

"We're paying it right now but ultimately, yeah, that bill is going to be passed onto customers as part of the rate agreement," he said.

Con Edison claims the lockout could end Thursday if union members simply agree to give the utility a 72-hour strike notice agreement. Union leaders and their supporters said that request is laughable, since Con Ed locked out its workers earlier this month with only about 20 minutes of notice.

"Con Ed has locked them out," said Assemblyman Linda Rosenthal. "So to ask for further concessions when Con Ed is the one that started this dispute is totally irrational, unreasonable and won't happen."

Assembly members also raised questions about meters not getting read since 5,000 workers are now doing the work of 13,000. As a result, customers are getting estimated bills, which are subject to adjustment.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter urging cooperation to end the lockout. The governor's letter was to the Public Service Commission, the state's regulatory body, which immediately said it would bring both sides to the table. That could spell an end to this lockout sooner rather than later.

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