Tag Archives: union

Con Ed, union reach deal, end lock out


| brennison@queenscourier.com

mini-blackout7w

Thunderstorms threatening New York City helped Con Edison and its workers strike a tentative deal ending a month long lock out.

After a temporary deal was struck earlier in the day to send some workers back to the job, Con Ed, Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a tentative agreement on a new four-year deal.

“We would like to thank Governor Cuomo for his support and guidance in helping Con Edison and the leadership of UWUA Local 1-2 reach a tentative agreement that is fair and equitable for our employees and customers,” Con Ed said in a statement.  “We look forward to our union employees returning to work. We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in the talks to reach this agreement.”

All electrical operations workers are to head to work immediately, the union’s website said, with all other employees to return for their next regular shift.

Electric operations workers were to return to work to assist with potential power restoration resulting from approaching storms before the deal was reached.

“Our people are certainly not going to let down New York City if there is an emergency,” said John Melia, spokesperson for Local 1-2.

But now any problems that arise during the potentially dangerous storms will have a fully staffed Con Ed to handle them.

Approximately 8,500 workers have been locked out since the beginning of July. Over that time, 5,000 management personnel have maintained the system.

 

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.

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

 

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.

Hundreds camp out for 50 union jobs


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

People walking along 32nd Avenue in Woodside last week may have thought they stumbled upon an Occupy Wall Street demonstration, or that the “Dark Knight Rises” had been released months in advance.

Instead, roughly 600 people were camped out – many of them for a week – in the hopes of receiving an application to join the apprenticeship program of Local 46 of the Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Union.

A line began forming in front of the union’s offices, located at 61-02 32nd Avenue in Woodside, on April 24 and grew exponentially, according to Bill Hohlfeld, coordinator of the labor management cooperative trust for Local 46. The gathering lasted until the morning of April 30, when 500 applications were handed out for the apprenticeship program on a first-come, first-served basis.

Despite the painstakingly-long hours many on line waited for their application, only 50 people will be chosen to join the program at this time.

“Nobody told people to come that early. People just didn’t want to risk not getting an application so they chose to do that. It is very competitive,” Hohlfeld said. “There are 50 initial positions opening, but [this list of applicants] is active for two years. Anytime during those two years, people can be chosen if spots open up.”

Those fortunate enough to receive applications will then take a manual dexterity test and a written exam dealing with basic mechanical aptitude and special relations – both given by the Department of Labor. Personal interviews will also be conducted by the joint apprenticeship committee of Local 46, and all applicants will have to pass a drug test.

Candidates will be chosen based on a combination of all factors, with final decisions made by the joint apprenticeship committee.

Despite the size and length of the campout, Hohlfeld says there were “no altercations or problems” during the week and grievances from the public “weren’t anything overwhelming.”

Local 46 provided campers with food, water and toilet facilities in an attempt to keep the strenuous situation as pleasant as possible.

“I thought that for the most part, the vast majority – with very few exceptions – were very well behaved. They pretty much complied with whatever we requested they do,” he said. “They were just people looking for an opportunity to better themselves.”

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens jurors lead city in no-shows

Looks like Queens needs a boroughwide civics class. More than one-third, or 35 percent, of Queens residents ignore their jury-duty notices — the highest in the five boroughs. “We’re dealing with thousands of people, and we just don’t have the staff,” said Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer, who acts as the commissioner of jurors. In fact, Pheffer, a former assemblywoman, said the office stopped bothering to impose fines as it upgrades its jury-selection system. Read More: New York Post

Queens deli destroyed by early morning fire, explosion

A Queens deli was destroyed by an overnight fire — and an explosion at the store could be felt two blocks away. The fire was reported at 3:30 a.m. at the corner of Hempstead Avenue and 220th Street. Firefighters used ladder trucks to spray the building, as the fire was too strong to fight from the inside. The business, Deli Grocery & Grill, is relatively new — only about two months old. No injuries were reported, and there’s no word on the cause of the fire. Read More: New York Post

 

Deliberations To Begin This Week In Queens Terror Trial

A jury could start deliberations as early as Monday in the case of a Queens man accused of plotting to blow up the city’s subways. Adis Medunjanin is accused of conspiring with admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi to detonate suicide bombs on Manhattan subway lines in 2009. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and receiving terrorist training from al-Qaida. Medunjanin faces life in prison if convicted on conspiracy and terror charges. Read More: NY1

 

Hundreds Of Union Job Applicants Camp Out In Woodside

Hundreds of applicants vying for a job with the ironworkers’ union waited outside the union’s office in Woodside, Queens for nearly a week, leaving some neighbors upset about the camp-out. Read More: NY1

Historic Forest Park Greenhouse gets $3.8 million upgrade, replacing century-old structures with high-tech ones

The historic Forest Park Greenhouse, which grows plants and flowers that liven up concrete stretches in Queens and Brooklyn, is moving beyond its early 20th century roots. A section of the greenhouse has just undergone a $3.8 million reconstruction that will increase its capacity and make it more environmentally-friendly. The first stage of the renovation focused on two of the houses that were built in 1905 and designed by greenhouse experts of the time, Lord and Burnham. Read More: Daily News

 

1 WTC to vault past Empire State Building today and become tallest tower in city

ONE WORLD Trade Center is set to eclipse the Empire State Building as New York’s tallest building Monday afternoon, officials said. As long as the weather cooperates, the tower will surpass the 1,250-foot Empire State Building at 2 p.m. on its way to a final height of 1,776 feet. “It’s wonderful,” Mayor Bloomberg said Sunday. “It’s taken a long time. This is probably the most complex construction site in any place ever. I think what we’ve shown is that democracy works.” Read More: Daily News

Queens man may have committed suicide by fireworks


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens man may have committed suicide by fireworks

A troubled Queens man may have committed suicide by fireworks yesterday. Horrified relatives discovered Theodore Ellinghaus Jr., 50, dead in the second-floor hallway of his house on 111th Avenue in South Ozone Park at 9:28 a.m. — after the powerful M80 he was holding to his stomach exploded, police said. “I’m mourning my son,” said the victim’s anguished father, Theodore Ellinghaus Sr., who was inside the home during the blast. The blast ripped off two fingers from Ellinghaus Jr.’s hand and tore a hole through his stomach, leaving his organs exposed, sources said. The NYPD’s bomb squad responded to the scene, but determined it was an isolated incident. No one else was injured. Read More: New York Post

 

Queens Woman, Son Allegedly Threatened By Ex-Boyfriend With Cleaver

Police in Queens were searching late Monday for a man who allegedly threatened an ex-girlfriend with a meat cleaver. Authorities say Damion Jackson, 41, seen above, made his way up a fire escape and used a brick to break a window at the woman’s apartment on Sunday. He allegedly entered the apartment and grabbed the meat cleaver from the kitchen. They say he made several threats to kill his ex-girlfriend and her son before dropping the weapon and running away. Read More: NY1

 

Jackson Heights community rallies against Trade Fair

The Jackson Heights community is fed up with a local supermarket’s “un-Fair” procedures. Councilmember Daniel Dromm and neighborhood residents united on January 17 in front of Trade Fair, a supermarket located at 75-07 37th Avenue, to protest the grocer’s persistent violations of city laws and regulations. “Trade Fair’s violations have created an unsafe environment for the Jackson Heights community and ruined the appearance of the neighborhood to the detriment of both residents and fellow business owners,” said Dromm. “We are demanding that Trade Fair do right by our neighborhood.” Read More: Queens Courier

 

Local immigration office opens

In an effort to increase accessibility and convenience for its customers, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially opened to the public with help from elected officials, as well as immigration service representatives. The new USCIS Queens center, located at 27-35 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, will serve up to 500 customers from Queens and Brooklyn every day. The center will incorporate both a full service field office and an application support center – this will mean customers will not have to go to separate locations for fingerprinting and biometrics. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Nurses’ Union Approves Strike At Flushing Hospital

About 430 nurses at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens may be walking off the job next month, as they notified the hospital of the potential strike on Monday. While the New York State Nurses Association approved the strike on Friday, federal law states that the union cannot start a strike until 10 days after the hospital has been notified. The nurses are asking for an increase in pensions and medical benefits. Their contract ended on December 31 and their health care benefits will expire at the end of February. Nurses told NY1 on Monday it was difficult coming to work knowing their benefits will run out soon. They also claimed to be the lowest-paid registered nurses in Queens. Read More: NY1