Union Asks State to Step In, Force Con Ed to End Lock Out

Friday, July 13, 2012

One of the many Con Ed managers who are filling in for locked out union workers. (Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

As Consolidated Edison labor talks continue, the union that represents the utility’s locked out workers is asking a state agency to investigate the impact the lock out is having on services.

In a motion filed with the state's Public Service Commission, which regulates Con Ed, the union charged the continued lock out of the skilled workforce had created significant "safety and reliability hazards." Specifically, the papers cited the company's deferring of transformer and manhole inspections, which are critical to spotting potential problems before they impact service.

Since the lockout began on July 1, Con Ed has been operating with approximately 5,000 managers handling service maintenance and emergencies operations usually handled by members of Local 1 -2 of the Utility Workers of America. The utility reports that four of those management fill ins  suffered work related injuries but that the system continues to operate effectively and safely.

"Consolidated Edison has obligations under law to provide safe, reliable and adequate service to the public for which they are compensated," said Scott Strauss, counsel for the union. "We have a concern that with the lockout situation and the workforce that Con Edison has put in place of its skilled and experience workforce we don't think they are able to live up to that obligation."

On Waverly place in Greenwich Village, a crew of 10 Con Ed mangers in blue jumpsuits worked outside the popular Italian restaurant Babbo Friday afternoon.

Wiping off the sweat, Michael Baratta climbed out of a manhole after splicing cables to repair the eateries’ low voltage problem. The 42-year-old has worked for the company a little over half his life and has been in management for 11 years.

He said the heat and long hours were taking their toll but believed the risks were minimal since workers are being careful. “For some people it’s been a few years (since they were in the field) but we all went for a refresher training prior to the contingency.”

Baratta admits everyone will be relieved when an agreement is made. “A lot of these guys I worked with together side by side, I feel for them…everybody is going to be happy when this is settled.”

The union is asking the PSC to end the lockout so the union's rank and file can return to work.

Con Ed has until Tuesday to respond. In a press statement Con Ed dismissed concerns about the capability of its managerial work force to keep the system running.

"Our management employees are all trained and experienced for the jobs they are doing.  From splicing cable, working in substations to handling customer inquiries and other functions, our management workforce is ready.  Between management employees and contractors, we are able to fill our staffing needs for emergency calls and outages,” the statement read.

A spokesman for the PSC said he did not know of any precedent for the state utility regulator to weigh in on a labor dispute, but said the independent commission would review the union's motion and the utility's response.

The continued labor standoff comes as temperatures are expected to climb back into the 90s over the weekend.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city's Office of Emergency Management is monitoring the situation on a 24-7 basis. The city has contingency plans to reduce its demand on the Con Ed power supply by opting to pull its DEP waste water treatment plants off line that have their own back up generators.

As for the negotiations, both sides remain divided on how they are progressing. The union describes it as "bogged down,"  while, management describes it as "ongoing."

Negotiations are expected to resume Saturday afternoon. Federal mediators have been facilitating the talks since April.



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Comments [15]

A brother Local 1-2 from Brooklyn

Kevin the jerk Berke as he has come to be known ought to count his blessings , get down on his knees and thank the almighty GOD, that he is where he is today, banking millions on the very back of the union brothers and sisters, that he at this moment is trying to send to bitter hell these brothers and sisters that , work long hours, holiday, and nights, to keep his evil empire running smoothly, Now he try's to take away all that we deserve, good enough pay, medical ,and a decent pension, if you really look you can see the greed here, 18 million from a company, to one man 20% raise across the board, and make the people who made it possible for it all, pay more for it all, if Bloomberg sits idle, and let's it happen he to ought to be on his knees, they think, GOD is not taking note of their wrong doings, and they think that when they pass on they can pay GOD to let them off the hook,they better rethink ,that's right, have lunch , on us as usual and rethink it all before it's to lake, Be Fare. Or Beware.

Jul. 18 2012 07:40 AM
Den from Gotham

Gotham City, a.k.a. The Big Apple is rotting away. The great People
are in dire straights and need your help. Mayor DOOMBERG & The Dumb
Governor SLOMO is out to get the masses. They are placing this great
Metropolis in grave danger for their GREED & CONTROL.

They are allowing the Corporate Evil Giant CONN-ED total control over
the electrical supply system to this Great City. The Board Of Dictator's
lead by Mr. Kevin the JERK BURKE & his evil kick in the side Mr.
POISION IVEY have LOCKOUT & Demoralized the rank & file WORKERS.
Along with the other evil members of Board of Dictators they are threatening
the security of the POWER system to The Metropolitan Area for their

These evil MONGOLS are placing The GOOD PEOPLE in the Greater Metropolitan
Area in a time warp. A power failure will place us somewhere in the
early 19th Century. No cell phones, TV's, security systems, A/C, elevators,
mass transit (no trains or street lights or signals), hospital sevices,
the list goes on and on.

Is this fair to hold this great city in fear!!!!

So CONN-ed you have the masses under your evil threat. Maybe a complete system
outage wouldn't happen but the NEWS are reporting various outages in this region.
Is this how you plan to rule the Metro Area.

Shame on you all. What rock will you hide under then? If a failures occur.

Do these Board Of Dictator's have any conscience?

What happens to the sick & infirmed? The people who placed you in office.
Total disrespect and arrogance for these fine citizens. Remember want goes
up must come down. Get ready when election time comes Mr. Slomo & ALL you
crocked politians, fail the people they will not forget.

The good stock holders of Consolidated Edison beware you have a bunch of BABOON'S
running your company. MR. KEVIN JERK should be eliminated from power. An investigation
by the PSC should be performed. CON ED made record earnings last year. The Board
of Dictator's got a 20% raise, Mr Jerk made 10 million cash. But they LOCKOUT the good
hard working union people. Lockout: no wages & no medical coverage for 8500 families
how disgraceful.

Where is the justice?? Wake up GOTHAM your great city is going DOWN.


Jul. 16 2012 05:56 PM

Lord help us all and I mean LORD HELP US ALL , if BinLadens
Supporter's where to drop in and say hello to us now...then what!!!

Jul. 16 2012 05:50 PM
joe from nyc from Nyc

Ast con ed how much hazardous stuff was in the air on e41 street and Lexington ave steam explosion if you were there get yourself checked out. They hide every thing. People were had masks on for a reason.

Jul. 14 2012 09:51 PM
Deeman from NYC

What will it take a major disaster to occur before the City and Con Ed's big wigs start to rationalize a decent settlement for these skilled union workers. Leave the defined pension plan along it pays the retirees with the interest it earns, self supportive. This is one of the reasons that have such a dedicated work force. As for medical cost I think a fair and just increase can be reached by both sides. What is the problem then? Is it that Con Edison wants to invade the money in this pension plan that has accumulated and distribute it to the Board of Directors, then sell off the company to a Hugh foreign conglomerate, destroying a company which been in existence over 125 years. If this does happen I see this company going down the tubes. The 99% reliability service record will diminish exponentially to nil. Then this great city will be in a heap of trouble............................

Jul. 14 2012 03:45 PM


Jul. 14 2012 11:47 AM
Mike from Ny

@joe the barber you need to be more educated your bill will not go up no matter what kind of contract the union gets for its members the psc regulates con ed so only 5%a of your bill goes to them the money is already put into the budget but hey what do i expect your a barber right so you must be jealous of all the perks of a union worker but you could aleays apply just like all men and woman in the unions but that would also mean getting your hands dirty and doing tasks youve probably never done in your life such as going into these manholes filled with live wires and anything else that may be alive down there

Jul. 14 2012 07:34 AM
Joe Barber from Manhattan

Does anyone realize that any raises and increase in benefits will be paid for by the Con Ed customers going forward into the future? Would you agree to pay more for your elec, gas and steam to give the union what it wants?

Jul. 14 2012 05:16 AM
Drick from East Bay

My good friend is one of the utility workers locked out of Con Ed. Prior to the locked-out he said managers were looking for any excuse to fire workers. The union was too strong so they locked the workers out instead of laying people off.
Imagine supporting a family, 2 kids, mortgage, and car payment. Than in the blink of an eye, your income and benefits are literally cut-off for 2 weeks. Typical corporate-greed on Con-Edison's part. They are busting the union and forcing people out for less skilled lower wage labor.

Jul. 13 2012 11:12 PM

I am utterly speechless! As a tax paying citizen I am dumbfounded that the public is to pay for this company's internal dispute by being put at risk for loss of service and by paying full price for reduced services. The speechless part derives from the fact that this will be compounded by watching my tax dollars being spent by the Mayor to support this. As a struggling middle class employee I realize that I will have no choice in leaving NY soon. Clearly my kind are not wanted, or "needed" here....

Jul. 13 2012 10:06 PM

Where is his Drager? Looks like a 20 day suspension.

Jul. 13 2012 09:51 PM
truedat from ny

it's a disgrace that 8500 middle class people are locked out of their jobs and lost their healrh insurance as the Greedy Con ED CEO and executives laugh all the way to the bank. This is union busting, plain and simple, by a prosperous company. Where are the politicians that are supposed to represent the peoples interests?

Jul. 13 2012 08:08 PM
J. Weber from Manhattab

I am shocked that nothing is being done to FORCE an end to this impasse!! I remember 3 NYC blackouts. I am now 75 years old, & live on the 18th floor of a Manhattan building. An outage could prove FATAL to me & others.
Something has to be done RIGHT AWAY!!

Jul. 13 2012 07:36 PM
rj from lindenhurst, NY

everyone out there should remember this come election time...mayor bloomberg and the wonderful govenor cuomo havent done a thing to try and end this lockout...maybe thats because govenor cuomo has an advisor who happens to be a member of the con ed board of directors..if these SORRY EXCUSES for leaders including kevin burke continue SCREWING the middle class maybe we should all stand togeather and elect someone who actually cares about someone other then their pollitical allies...STAY STRONG LOCAL 1-2

Jul. 13 2012 05:25 PM
ralph from brooklyn

Isn't it great that our mayor is going to turn on his water supply generators to ease the strain on con eds power grid? But who is going to pay for that? WE will, the lowly tax payers, as our water rates went up last month by 7 percent. Who is going to pay the Con ed unemployment checks? Guess what? Me and you and the poor to the tune of 10 million dollars a week as our mayor has dinner with the corporate theives that have stolen the American dream... The mayor and his buddy's streets are shoveled in a blizzard, but when a hospital,park or commuite service is needed does it go the working class? No, it does not. I am sure Mr. Bloomberg is watching the situation but not as closely as his backers who support him from corporate america. God help the middle class because no body else is.

Jul. 13 2012 05:03 PM

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