Tag Archives: Lockout

Three weeks in, health insurance reinstated for Con Ed workers


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Three weeks after contract negotiations began between Con Ed and representatives from the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, the utility giant reinstated health coverage for its 8,500 locked out workers.

Local 1-2 spokesperson John Melia claimed the company’s decision to cut off health insurance at the start of the lockout was illegal.

“They broke the law, we caught them at it and they put insurance back in place,” said Melia. “They knew they broke the law. They knew they were in the wrong.”

According to Melia, Con Ed cost state unemployment assistance agencies millions of dollars after refusing to pay for workers’ benefits, forcing them to look elsewhere for help. Melia added that since the company is self-insured, revoking benefits was a “double crime against the 8,500 New York families” affected during the lockout.

“They don’t care about their customers and they don’t care about their workers,” said Melia. “How are they getting away with charging the people of New York to throw workers on the street?”

According to a Con Ed spokesperson, employees who worked after midnight on June 30 — the day the contract ran out –- continued to receive health care through the month of July. Those who did not work past the first of the month were released from their company-offered insurance and instead presented with the option of purchasing benefits through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) — a Department of Labor-sponsored program that provides dismissed or laid-off workers and their families benefits. The representative said only a very small number of workers retained coverage in the interim.

On July 15, Con Ed officials notified union leadership after deciding to reinstate coverage for all locked out workers through July. Medical costs incurred during the course of the lockout will also be covered. The official did not say why Con Ed executives came to this conclusion.

Neither side could say whether or not talks had progressed any further.

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

Con Ed Locks Out Workers Following Failed Contract Talks 

Consolidated Edison and its employees union had a war of words Sunday over who was responsible for the lockout that left 8,500 workers off the job. Talks between Con Ed and Local 1-2, Utility Workers Union of America broke down early Sunday.Both sides kept talking past the midnight deadline but the utility dismissed the workers at 2 a.m. Sunday and brought in 5,000 managers to run its electric, gas and steam operations. Read more: [NY1] 

Police Are Hunting For A Pair Of Suspects In A String Of Sexual Assaults In Queens 

The NYPD is asking the public for assistance in tracking down a sexual abuse, rape, and robbery suspect in Queens. The alleged perpetrator has struck four times. His first attack came against a 19-year-old woman in Forest Hills when he sexually assaulted a woman at knife point and stole her cell phone and cash. Read more: [1010wins]

Willets Point Business owners’ City and NY Mets owners intend to maul us with mega-mall 

The city’s newly announced plans for Willets Point are an outrage — and should be seen as such by every City Council member who voted in favor of the plan that was originally proposed, and by all New York City taxpayers who are being stuck with the bill for what will forever be known as Bloomberg’s folly. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens billboard no good for advertising: lawsuit 

A 75-year-old Queens billboard could go blank if the city has its way. Atlantic Outdoor Advertising began leasing the billboard at 23-10 Queens Plaza South in 1999, but when it sought permission to change wording on the rooftop display last year, the move was rejected because the city claimed the billboard was not an “advertising” sign. Read more: [New York Post] 

Rockaway residents rally to replace fence around nude beach 

Rockaway residents fed up with getting an eyeful from a nude beach are demanding the city rebuild a fence to shield their gaze from naked sunbathers. Dozens of scandalized locals rallied at the beach Sunday — pushing to rebuild the fence that separated the federally controlled adult beach in Riis Park from the tamer sands of Neponsit. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

NYC’s first casino, Resorts World Casino, robbed for the first time

The city’s first casino was robbed for the first time on Friday afternoon, police and sources said. An unarmed robber slipped a note to a second-floor cashier at Resorts World Casino in Queens and demanded cash late Friday afternoon, police said. The cashier forked over currency and the suspect fled about 4:45 p.m. Police would not confirm the amount. Read more: [New York Daily News]