ConEd Negotiations End in the Dismissal of 8,500 Workers


Well, this completely backfired.

Over the past ten days, the Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America and ConEd officials have  been arguing over the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement that ended at midnight Saturday.
As the deadline slowly passed last night, the electrical titan that powers New York City and Westchester County decided to lock out 8,500 workers and replace them with 5,000 managers – a team of supervisors that the company hopes will be able to keep power running without the interference of losing 8,500 laborers with the snap of a finger. Imagine losing your job at 2 in the morning?
However, ConEd is not calling it a “lockout” because it simply told workers to not show up to work. Passive aggression as an union-busting tactic works too. But, by shutting off communications for the 8,500 workers and replacing them with supervisors, a strike planned for midnight was swiftly avoided, even as three hundred workers rallied Downtown at the same time, chanting “If we go out, the lights go out!”
The main focus of the contractual argument centered around the pension plan ConEd was offering, or was going to offer, its workers. The one right now uses a traditional model – pay in while you’re working, pay out when you’re retired – but the new one is based off a cash-balance system, which sets up hypothetical accounts to pay out workers and, according to the Times, “tends to yield lower benefits to older workers.”
Before the lockout, ConEd made one final offer to the Local 1-2, which basically was a plea for a labor strike notice. The corporates wanted the laborers to notify ConEd seven days in advance of a strike or work stoppage. The utility rejected this proposal and asked the bosses if they could return to the table for negotiations. But, unfortunately, it didn’t look like there was a seat for them anymore.

So now what? This company provides 3.2 million New Yorkers with A/C and they just shafted a large portion of their workforce. (This is a great time for firing, too. It’s not like there’s a heat wave or anything.) The laborers even offered to work without a contract, just to make sure we, as users, have the electricity to power our Wi-Fi, fan, laptops and whatever other plugged-in device we have. Can supervisors, who are used to cubicles and the 9-5 shift, complete the job of a manual laborer?

ConEd, it’s one thing if you couldn’t agree with your workers on a contract but, if this fallout affects me watching the EuroCup game this afternoon, all of New York will bring you back to the table.