Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Consolidated Edison is defending the way it has handled the lock of out more than 8,000 workers to a state regulator.
In a filing to the state Public Service Commission, the utility said it had no choice but to lock out the workers after the union said it would not give 72-hours notice before striking so the utility could provide its customers uninterrupted service as contract talks expired.
“If the union leadership directed our union employees to leave their jobs without warning, we would have understaffed energy control centers and substations,” Con Ed stated in the filing. “Our ability to respond to and fix gas leaks, power outages, or downed lines would be severely compromised.”
The filing is in response to a request by Local 1-2, the Utility Workers of America, that the PSC force the utility to end the lock out. The utility has about 5,000 managers handling service maintenance and emergencies operations usually handled by members of Local 1 -2.
Union spokesman John Melia didn’t take much stock in Con Ed’s argument to the PSC. “We’ll see what the Public Service Commission makes of what Con Ed replied, but I can say on the face of it that Con Ed, once again, states half truths.”
Meanwhile, union workers from across the city rallied outside Con Ed’s headquarters at Irving Place in support of the locked out workers and then marched to Union Square in the midst another heat wave blanketing the city. Transit employees, teachers, and steamfitters chanted “we are one” and vowed to support the workers until they received a fair contract.
Salvatore Guerico has been working for Con Ed for the last 44 years. He believes the large turnout would send a strong message.
“This is to show New York and Con Edison that we are united. I think everyone is looking to stand up in New York because everyone has had enough of corporate greed,” Guerico said.
Members of the City Council, State Assembly and the State Senate also showed up to the rally, as did mayoral hopefuls Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Comptroller John Liu.
Neither Con Ed nor the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 has indicated any real progress. They didn’t meet on Tuesday. Negotiations are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.