Updated 07/05/2012 10:56 PM
Union Workers Continue Rallies As Con Ed Contract Talks Resume
Consolidated Edison resumed contract negotiations with union representatives Thursday, but there seemed no end in sight to the lockout of 8,500 workers or the union's protest by the utility's Gramercy Park headquarters. NY1's Polly Kreisman filed the following report.
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With both sides at the bargaining table Thursday at an undisclosed location, the crowd of unionized Consolidated Edison workers was the largest since the lockout began Sunday morning.
A total of 8,500 workers from Local 1-2 in the city and Westchester County were locked out when management and workers hit an impasse over benefits and pay raises.
“I’m insulted by this company locking us out and having people with no medical, no money and people have family members that might get sick, children that might get sick, and this is what they do?" said Frank Caira, a Con Ed mechanic for 40 years.
"Our medical benefits, our pension, our health benefits, they’re trying to cut our raises and just give us nothing,” said Falisha, a Con Ed customer service worker.
Con Ed took the offensive to the newspaper with a full-page ad with the headline, "Why Con Edison Union Employees Are Not At Work."
The ad reads, "Imagine if a crew working on an outage at your home or business suddenly picked up their tools and left,” referring to the union's unwillingness to agree not to strike if the company gave a two-week extension.
Mario Cilento, the president of the NY State AFL-CIO, responded, "Con Edison sunk to a new low with today's misleading print ads. It's bad enough that the company locked out workers who were willing to work past contract expiration with no strings attached,” he said.
Locked-out workers told NY1 the 5,000 managers taking the place of utility workers are putting their lives in danger.
One manager was injured in a manhole explosion on the Upper West Side yesterday.
Fire officials say the unidentified man suffered burns to his face while working underground on West 70th Street. He is the second manager hurt since the lockout began.
Con Ed officials confirmed the injuries but said this is not unusual with dangerous utility work.
"We do everything to prevent injuries, they do happen, nothing serious so far, we're just going to keep the power flowing,” said Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin.
Meantime, Con Ed has reduced voltage in more than a dozen Brooklyn neighborhoods to reduce the strain on the electric grid due to the high temperatures.