July 14, 2024

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New York City utility workers could strike amid the heat wave if the union, Con Ed, doesn’t reach an agreement

New York City utility workers could strike amid the heat wave if the union, Con Ed, doesn’t reach an agreement

As New Yorkers endure an extended heat wave this week, nearly 8,000 utility workers are preparing to strike if their union and Con Edison cannot reach a contract agreement by midnight Saturday.

Members of Utility Workers of America Local 1-2 are mostly electrical technicians, engineers, designers and administrative workers whose 4-year contracts expire on Saturday. Union officials say negotiations will likely continue until the deadline, but Con Ed expressed optimism about the outcome.

However, the union says the energy giant, which serves all of New York City and Westchester County, needs to do better for the workers who keep the lights on.

“They act as if they are just another publicly traded company because they have been rewarding their investors for more than 120 years with a fixed return,” union spokesman John Melia said. “In the meantime, the professionals who keep the system running, the members of Local 1-2, are treated as an afterthought.”

Con Edison is “investor-owned” but is still regulated by the New York State Public Service Commission, which recently approved a significant rate hike for the company. Electricity customers saw their bills rise by about 9.1% in 2023 and another 4.2% this year. In 2025, bills will rise by 3.8%. The average monthly electric bill in New York City is about $190, compared to $166 a decade ago. According to PSC.

“They’re not in pain,” Melia said. “With temperatures forecast to rise, this is a vital time. It is unfortunate that we have to reach an agreement with them otherwise they will fail in their responsibility to their customers and be charged by the state to deliver.

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The union has a policy of not providing details on the details of the negotiations, but Melia said wages, benefits, safety measures and job security are all part of the talks. The contract is renewed every four years. In 2012, contract negotiations failed, and Con Ed “locked out” nearly 8,000 workers. the The stalemate lasted for three weeks Until then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought both parties to the table and reached an agreement.

Alan Drury, a spokesman for Con Edison, said Saturday that the company is eager to reach a fair arrangement with the union.

“The American Utility Workers Union Local 1-2 and Con Edison continue to engage in meaningful and productive discussions,” he said in a written statement. “We remain optimistic that these conversations will result in a fair and equitable agreement for our employees as well as our customers.”

At 9pm on Saturday, Melia told Gothamist that negotiations were still ongoing.

“Con Ed is on a collision course now but we are still at the table,” Melia said.