Tag Archives: Con Edison

As talks continue, locked out Con Ed workers worried about families, future


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Alexa Altman

Maurice camped outside the College Point Con Ed facility, withstanding the blistering midsummer heat not just for himself and his fellow locked-out workers, but for his four-year-old daughter.

The little girl, born with an intestinal atresia, was denied medical coverage when her parents took her to the doctor to receive treatment for her condition on July 2 – the day the lockout began and health benefits for employees and their families were cut off. According to Maurice, a pharmacy refused to hand over the girl’s medicine, which she takes daily along with IV fluids.

The girl’s insurance is suspended until a letter, supplied by Con Ed, is presented to her doctor. According to Maurice, who chose not to give his last name, Con Ed estimated it will take at least 16 days for them to hand over the document.

“We’re going through enough with the lockout,” said Maurice. “My main concern is my baby. We don’t need this.”

Sporting sunburns and looks of distaste, Maurice and 200 other Con Ed employees stationed themselves outside the northern Queens facility, protesting the utility giant’s decision to remove them from their jobs.

“It hurts,” said Joe Mussillo, who has worked for Con Ed for over 35 years. “We put in our all and we maintain the city.”

The union safety department worker, who joined the company when he was 18 years old, lamented the lockout, leaving thousands to stress over mortgages and medical bills. He feared for the security of workers’ jobs and the families who rely on them.

“All we want is a fair contract,” said Mussillo. “It’s what we’ve wanted from the beginning.”

Bill Schutt, a Vietnam War veteran who has spent 44 years working for Con Ed, believed his job was a “cradle to grave” occupation. Several years away from retirement, Schutt claims the company’s agenda is to “buy, sell and break the union.”

“This is the respect they show the people,” he bellowed. “They don’t like us. They don’t have respect for us.”

Turning to the group of picketers behind him, Schutt asked who wanted to go back to work.

Each of their hands shot up.

Con Ed officials and union representatives returned to the bargaining table at noon on Tuesday, July 10. According to Local 1-2 spokesperson John Melia, Con Ed responded with an undisclosed offer and union representatives are reviewing their proposal.

“If things progress, they’ll stay there around the clock,” said Melia. “There’s no time limit when you’re in the middle of these things. It really depends on the progress made.”

As of press time, Con Ed representatives would not say anything other than the talks had resumed.

Weekend Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The-Afternoon-Roundup17

Sex offender busted for ‘fondling’ young girls in Queens library

A registered sex offender has been arrested for allegedly fondling two young girls last month inside a Queens library. Joel Grubert, 49, was spotted on surveillance camera groping the victims, ages 6 and 9, at about 6:20 p.m. June 23 inside the Queens Library branch at 41-17 Main St. in Flushing, police said. Read more: NY Post

Con Edison, union resume talks Tuesday as NYC bakes

Contract talks between Consolidated Edison Inc and locked-out union workers ended on Saturday after a few hours with both sides agreeing to meet again on Tuesday as New York City baked in extreme heat. Con Ed spokesman Alfonso Quiroz confirmed negotiations between the company and the union had concluded and will resume Tuesday at noon. Read more: Reuters

Queens boxer Will Rosinsky has strong first round in fight against Kelly Pavlik but loses in unanimous decision

The way Queens boxer Will Rosinsky started his fight with Kelly Pavlik, darting in and out of danger, throwing and landing too many punches to count, was a total blur. It was a staggering pace, like a runner trying to sprint the length of a marathon. Rosinsky, who works as an EMT in East New York, fought the first round like a man possessed, dipping down, showing Pavlik angles, landing solid overhand rights, in close to Pavlik to blunt the taller man’s blows. Read more: Daily News

Off-duty cop busted for DWI after he crashed car in Queens

An off-duty cop was busted for DWI early today after he crashed his car in Queens, police said. Brayan Terrazas, 26, was collared after he slammed his vehicle into a concrete traffic median near Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue in Hunters Point just before 3 a.m., police said. Read more: NY Post

Con Ed worker arrested for alleged false leak report as lockout continues

Police in Westchester County arrested a Consolidated Edison worker Saturday for falsely reporting a gas leak as the utilities workers continue to be locked off the job. Police in Yonkers said the employee was arrested Saturday for reporting a nonexistent gas leak. Sources told NY1 that Con Ed customer service representative Lorraine Erikson was trying to sabotage the utility company when she made the false claims. Read more: NY1

 

Talks between Con Ed, union continue as heat wave bakes city


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Con Ed

As the temperature rises, so does the risk of power outages, a fact that is magnified with Con Edison workers locked out as contract talks continue.

Temperatures are forecasted to reach 100 degrees on Saturday, and with 8,500 workers locked out, the task of maintaining the system — which can be strained in the heat — falls to 5,000 management personnel.

“We have to be prepared for anything in the hot weather,” said Con Ed spokesperson Sara Banda. “We have 5,000 management personnel, half of which came from the union.”

The company said voltage reductions are possible throughout the borough as a precaution as the heat increases, though there are none currently in Queens.

Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, which represents the locked out workers, said that in the sweltering heat, it’s only a matter of time before the heat wave affects service.

“God forbid something happens. The grid is under strain in the hot weather. You can see it from the voltage reduction,” said union spokesperson John Melia of the reductions in other parts of the city.

“[The locked out workers’] belief is that sooner or later — with this kind of heat — Con Ed will be overwhelmed and then that puts public lives in danger.”

Banda said Con Ed’s staff is ready for any emergency, but did not want to speculate on large scale outages.

Talks continued between Con Ed and the union today, thought little progress was made, Melia said.

Con Ed workers still locked out, talks to continue Thursday


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Con Ed

As temperatures spiked and residents across the city feared power outages, Con Edison locked out more than 8,000 workers over heated contract talks – leaving 5,000 management personnel responsible for maintaining electric, gas and steam service for the company’s 3.2 million customers.

The power giant blamed the stalemate on leaders of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 1-2 — the union representing roughly 8,000 Con Edison employees — who refused to accept its offer to extend their members’ contract for two weeks.

“[The workers] are fired up. They are just fired up,” said Local 1-2 spokesperson John Melia. “They are supporting union leadership in measures that haven’t been seen in years. We have 100 percent support.”

According to Melia, talks between the utility giant and union members were unable to progress. Tensions and tempers peaked at Con Ed’s decision to switch to a 401(k) plan rather than the current, $8 billion defined pension benefits plan – a decision based on an updated business model rather than an economic rationale, according to Melia.

In a side-by-side analysis of both plans, Melia said a retiree on Con Ed’s defined pension plan gets $2,000 a month, while the same person under a 401(k) receives $800 a month.

According to Melia, it takes about 15 years of training to advance through the ranks at Con Ed.

“It’s a lifetime commitment to the people of the city of New York,” said Melia.

The company said its proposal to extend the current contract remains on the table and if union leadership agreed to extend the present agreement, Con Ed would welcome its employees back immediately. Electricity executives allegedly offered to continue negotiations if each side agreed to give a week’s notice of a strike or work stoppage, which the union rejected.

Con Ed suspended meter reading in most areas and closed several walk-in centers due to the lockout.

According to Con Ed, the lockout occurred because of the lack of a contract, the possibility that the union might call a surprise strike, and the company’s fear that it could not assure customers reliable service.

“The system is holding up and everything is working well,” said Con Ed spokesperson Alfonso Quiroz in regards to the lockout occurring during a heat wave.

According to Melia, on Thursday, July 5, federal mediation services will assist with continued talks at a meeting between both parties.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Heat Brings Outages, Voltage Reductions To Some; Fun To Others

The second day of near-triple-digit temperatures brought power outages and voltage reductions to thousands across the city. As of 10 p.m. Thursday evening, Con Edison is reporting more than 2,500 outages across the five boroughs. 1,019 of those outages are in Brooklyn, while 906 are in Queens. Read more: [NY1]

Cuffs for big bro, 23, who ‘lost’ li’l bro, 5

A Queens boy learned the hard way he can’t count on his big brother. Zackary Nazario, 5, was missing for more than eight hours after he was frightened out of his South Ozone Park home by a cockroach — while his baby-sitting 23-year-old brother was out buying a beer. Read more: [New York Post]

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall launches gun buy-back program 

The all-too-frequent sound of gunfire in one Queens precinct has been heard in Borough Hall. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, responding to an alarming number of shootings in Jamaica’s 113th Precinct, has come up with $50,000 for a gun buy-back program on Saturday. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Queens Residents Complain Horse Manure From Riding School Leaving A Stinky Mess.

In the midst of oppressive heat, a Queens neighborhood with aquaint view of horses has become overwhelmed by the smell of them. Lynne’s Riding School in Forest Hills is a little stable tucked into a corner of the big city. They have been offering lessons for 65 years, but, lately, the old stable has been the subject of complaints from newer neighbors.Read more: [1010wins]

 U.S. Open Holds Ball Person Tryouts

Hundreds of hopefuls tried out to be ballboys and ballgirls at the U.S. Open Thursday. Battling sweltering temperatures, contestants from all over the city lined up outside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for a shot at one of the 80 available positions. United States Tennis Association officials evaluated the competition on their running, throwing and catching skills. Read more: [NY1]

Queens high school violinist seeks to play his way from an F-train platform to a concert stage 

 

At a time when high school students are struggling to find part-time gigs in the tough economy, a 19-year-old Queens violinist is tapping into his pursuit of virtuosity to create a college fund. Yut Chia, who is graduating from Bayside High School this month, has been filling subway platforms with his bitter-sweet classical renditions since he was a junior and hopes to raise funds to keep up his musical pursuit. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Heat Advisory To Remain In Effect For Thursday

As a heat advisory remains in effect for Thursday, Con Edison is urging customers to conserve energy. The utility reduced voltage in dozens of neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn as a precaution to protect equipment and maintain service while crews fix electrical problems. Read more: [NY1]

Campaign 2012 Notebook: Queens Congressional candidates jockey for votes as primary nears

With the June 26 primary just days away, the four Democrats hoping to become the nominee for Queens’ Sixth Congressional District are busy trying to get people to the polls. While rain is generally the biggest detriment to voter turnout, the unusual late June primary poses a different question: Will potential voters want to spend any part of a sunny June day at the polls? Read more: [New York Daily News]  

20-year-old man plunges to his death from elevated subway platform in Queens

An inebriated 20-year-old man jumped to his death from an elevated subway platform in Queens Wednesday night, fire and police sources said. The young man bolted from a stalled A train at the Beach 90th St. station in Rockaway Beach around 8 p.m., the sources said. The conductor saw the victim — who may have been trying to hop to a nearby rooftop and scale a fence when he suddenly dropped, the sources added. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

Police searching for missing 5-year-old Queens boy: report

Police are looking for a 5-year-old boy in Queens this morning, ABC 7 reported. According to the report, the boy — who answers by the name of Zachary — walked out of his home on Rockaway Boulevard and 118th Street in South Ozone Park at about 1:30 a.m. Read more: [New York Post]  

Arvind Mahankali, Daily News finalist in National Spelling Bee, awarded City Council Citation  

Twelve-year-old Arvind Mahankali, of Bayside Hills, was awarded a New York City Council Citation for advancing to the finals in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The seventh-grader, who placed third in his third appearance at the event, received the citation from City Councilmen Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Daniel Halloran (R-Whitestone) during a ceremony held Monday, June 18, at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

Resorts Casino Raking In Slot Machine Revenue

The Resorts World Casino says it is raking in more money from slot machines than any other gambling hub in the country. Watch video: [NY1]

Queens communities facing brownouts


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Several Queens communities face a voltage reduction from Con Edison due to electrical equipment problems.

The 100 degree heat has many residents blasting air conditioners to stay cool.

Con Ed said the neighborhoods affected will have a 5 percent voltage reduction.  This was done in an effort to prevent a significant outage, a spokesperson from the company said.

There are about 20 individual  outages in Queens right now according to Con Edison’s outage map.

The reduction will occur in Bellerose, Cambria Heights, Floral Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Jamaica, Jamaica Hills, Laurelton, Middle Village, Queens Village, South Jamaica, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans.

Con Edison asked customers in these areas to conserve electricity and turn off nonessential electric equipment, such as TVs, computers, air conditioners, washers, dryers, and microwaves.

To report power outages or service problems visit www.conEd.com or call 800-75-CONED (6633). When reporting an outage, customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.

 

Windsor Park will save green by going green


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DSC_0316w

Larry Goodfleish, 56, said he thinks it’s good his building will become energy efficient and cost effective.

“[It’s] absolutely good; and if it’s Earth friendly and Earth healthy, I’m all for it,” he said before going into his apartment at Windsor Park.

The Bayside co-op is converting from oil heat to natural gas, with completion of the project set for the end of the year. It will cost $4 million, but will save the co-op more money in the long run, officials announced May 17.

Updating the buildings will pay for itself after about three-and-a-half years, said Larry Kinitsky, Windsor Park president, and will save the co-op more than $800,000 each year after. The choice to switch to natural gas was more economical for Windsor Parks than Oil 2, Kinitsky said.

In addition to the updated heating system, the inside of the buildings’ chimneys will be re-coated to handle the exhaust fumes.

The project is in compliance with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new law to change all Oil 6 buildings to a more environmental fuel source by 2015.

The overhaul of the complex’s heating system is a coordination between National Mechanic Corp., Con Edison and City Councilmember Mark Weprin’s office.

Already three weeks into the program, National Mechanic Corp. is contracted to evaluate and change any equipment that needs updating. Con Edison is responsible for transporting the natural gas from the mainline under city streets into the buildings’ line.

Gary and Greg Mortman, vice presidents of National Mechanic, said they’re working on five buildings of the complex’s 20, which house 1,830 apartments. Greg said the impact to residents has been “very minute.”

Terri Bonavolonta, spokesperson for Con Edison, said the project is easier to coordinate in the summer, when resident’s won’t worry about heating, though temporary hot water suppliers have been installed.

Weprin, whose office is located in the complex – complimented Windsor Park for its initiative to make the conversion.

“I’m delighted that Windsor Park is doing this,” he said, before adding that he has been working with other co-ops to ensure they are updated by the 2015 deadline.

Man busted in city-wide manhole cover thefts


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The man behind the theft of manhole covers has been uncovered. Andrew Modica, 46, was arrested yesterday in connection with the numerous stolen manhole covers across the city, law enforcement sources told The Post this morning. Cops pulled Modica over in a stolen pickup truck near his home on 67th Street and 21st Avenue in Brooklyn after they tracked him down through a license plate and parking summons, sources said.

Modica has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property and criminal impersonation.

Modica admitted to some of the manhole thefts from the streets across Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx, but claimed there were others he did not commit, sources said.

[New York Post]

Little girl left on bus; driver charged


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony DelMundo

Police parked a private bus driver in prison after she left her vehicle unattended — with a toddler still aboard.

Officers from the 110th Precinct responded to Christie Avenue and 99th Street in Corona at 9 a.m. on April 12 after receiving a 9-1-1 call from a Con Edison worker who spotted a child in the driver’s seat of a parked bus. Upon arrival at the scene, cops discovered two-year-old Samantha Bustamante abandoned inside the unattended private vehicle, which is operated by Anita Bus Company.

The police proceeded to break a window and remove the toddler, who they believe was left alone for roughly 15 minutes. Bustamante was taken back to the 110th Precinct, where she was reunited with her mother. EMS also responded to the precinct to evaluate the girl and determined she was in good physical condition.

“I was scared – terrified,” said mom Sandra Ramos, 24. “I started crying on the phone, but the police were telling me she was fine. I was terrified for my baby.”

Bustamante was picked up from her Elmhurst home at 7:20 a.m. by the Anita Bus and was supposed to be dropped off at Kathy’s Day Care, located at 97-30 57th Avenue in Corona, at roughly 8:30 a.m. with four other children. However, police say the driver, 62-year-old Ana Garcia, missed the girl while checking the vehicle after the other children departed.

Garcia was arrested by police after she returned to the bus and has been charged with failure to exercise control of a minor. She is also legally forbidden from coming near Bustamante. The NYPD says the Corona resident went home after parking the bus.

Attempts to contact Garcia were unsuccessful as of press time, and Anita Bus’ phone was not accepting incoming calls. Ramos says she paid for Anita Bus through Kathy’s Day Care, but a representative from the center would not comment as to whether they referred the bus service.

When Ramos received a call from the day care center informing her that her daughter had not been dropped off, she immediately called Garcia’s cell phone, but found police on the other end of the line. She initially suspected she was the victim of a practical joke, but her calm quickly turned to panic when the cops’ description matched Bustamante.

The frantic mother was then picked up from her job in Manhattan and brought to the station by police, where she found her daughter playing with officers and serving them coffee.

“When I first saw her, I started crying and I hugged my mom so my daughter wouldn’t see me. I didn’t want her to see the fear I had,” Ramos recollected. “She seemed so unaware – so brave in the situation. I guess she didn’t comprehend what happened so I didn’t want her to see me crying. I hugged my baby as hard as I could.”

Garcia’s son apologized to Ramos at the 110th Precinct, but she still has not been given an explanation for the mishap. She says she provides the bus company with a car seat for her daughter, and she is upset the child was unstrapped and able to walk to the driver’s seat.

“She was not in her car seat. She was walking around and that’s how they saw her,” Ramos said. “She was unbuckled and roaming around in the bus. It just shows their carelessness. Even if she was asleep or not tied in they are also supposed to check the bus. It’s frustrating.”

Despite the fear she initially felt for her daughter’s safety, Ramos is now happy just to have Bustamante safe and sound and is thankful a “good person” spotted her in the bus.
“What if it was someone else who passed by, someone not as good as the 9-1-1 caller – then they could have broken that window and taken my baby. I don’t even want to think about that. I want to think about having her,” Ramos said. “This is like a second chance for my daughter, and I’m just glad that I have her. I’m upset at the situation, but I’m happy with the result because I have my daughter safe.”

Con Ed crew foils robbery


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

A routine gas inspection turned into a harrowing chase as four Con Edison employees rushed to the aid of the victim of a violent purse snatching in Bayside on the night of January 25.

The Con Edison crew — John Kane, John McDonnell, Michael Santeramo and Anthony Farmighetti — were working on a gas line just off Northern Boulevard when they heard the screams of a young woman on 201st Street and 42nd Avenue. When they rushed to the scene, they saw the victim on the ground, bleeding from the mouth.

The crew approached the suspect and that is when the incident escalated. The man pointed a gun at the workers and told them to step back; the suspect then ran off with the crew in hot pursuit. With total disregard for their own personal safety, the four-man team chased the suspect through a neighborhood backyard.

“We heard screaming and saw bags scattered all over the ground,” said Santeramo, 27, a Con Edison worker for five years. “We ran up to her [the victim] and she was bleeding from the mouth.”

McDonnell, 29, said that he and his fellow workers just did what anyone would do in a situation like that — explaining that when someone is in danger, the right thing to do is help the person without thinking twice.

“We ran right there, you know,” said McDonnell, describing scene. “You hear something like that happen and you just run right there. You just go right into mode, you want to help somebody.”

Despite their heroic efforts, the determined crew lost the perpetrator. The workers returned to the victim, a 24-year-old woman, and stayed with her until police responded to the scene.

“She was very grateful that we helped her out and she was very thankful that we stopped the altercation,” Kane said of the woman, whose identity was not released.

After the incident, the crew went back to work and finished their shift. The next day, Santeramo and McDonnell went to work as if nothing happened at all.

“We came in the next day and didn’t think twice about it,” said McDonnell, who has been with Con Edison for seven years. “We were called upstairs and we thought we were in trouble.”

But Con Ed officials, proud of the men’s heroism, simply wanted to thank them and let people know their brave story.

No arrests have been made in the incident, and police describe the suspect as a black male.

Pols Push for Underground Power Lines


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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When Hurricane Irene thrashed through Queens, it left thousands of residents without power for days.
Those extended periods without power need to be over, according to Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who introduced legislation shortly after the storm that proposes installing underground power lines in her district.
“The benefit of moving these wires underground outweighs financial cost. Con Edison has a responsibility to make sure that residents in Queens are afforded the most technologically advanced and efficient power supply that other customers with underground wires are accustomed to,” Crowley said in a statement.
According to the councilmember, the 30th district has miles of above ground distribution wires that make it experience frequent outages. The utility company that services the area, Con Edison, contends that installing underground power lines would be an unnecessary and costly upgrade for those neighborhoods.
To institute underground power lines, the utility company would have to foot the entire bill, which would total almost $1 million a mile and cost each homeowner in the area up to $10,000, said Chris Olert, a spokesperson from Con Edison.
“You have to tear up sidewalks, streets, pavements – it’s terribly expensive,” he said.
Underground power lines would increase electricity reliability in the area. Nearby Manhattan has underground wires and experiences fewer outages than Queens, according to James Denn, a spokesperson for the New York State Public Service Commission.
Though the underground lines are more reliable, they could also be more difficult to get to and expensive to repair than overhead power lines, Denn said.
While the advantages of having underground power lines in communities is clear, the issue boils down to whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits.
“The bottom line to this discussion is cost versus the gain in reliability,” he said.
Crowley is in discussions with Con Edison to come to a compromise on who should be responsible for the bill. The councilmember is also looking at the option of subsidizing the costs with City Council dollars, according to Crowley spokesperson, Kaitlin Moore.
If the community were to decide it wanted to switch to underground lines, not only would their electricity rates go up to pay for it, but the bills of their neighbors would go up too. Those residents wouldn’t be able to have the benefit of underground lines, but would see increases in their monthly bills, Denn said.
One cheaper solution to the issue is better tree maintenance. If Con Edison were to routinely prune trees in the neighborhoods, it could prevent them from falling onto overhead power lines during bad storms.
“The simplest approach is to have an aggressive vegetation management program,” Denn said. “That’s the most cost effective approach.”