June 25, 2018

National Grid, unions at odds; workers locked out

Courtesy Photo

About 1,100 gas workers were locked out of their National Grid work sites Monday, according to the heads of two United Steel Workers locals.

"We regret that the unions have rejected our fair and balanced final offer," National Grid said in a statement to the News Service Monday. "Due to the inability of the company to reach a tentative agreement, we have activated this plan for the safety of our employees, customers, the communities we serve, and the general public. We value all of our employees and the expertise and dedication they bring to their jobs. It is our hope that a resolution can be reached so that they return to work as soon as possible."

The lockout comes a day after the contract between the utility and the two locals expired.

USW Local 12003 President Joe Kirylo and Local 12012 President John Buonopane said in a joint statement that National Grid has refused their requests to allow members to work while bargaining.

"National Grid is jeopardizing the safety of our communities by locking out 1,100 of its most experienced employees who are critical to ensuring safe and quality gas work in Massachusetts," Kirylo and Buonopane said. "These workers not only protect and maintain key infrastructure, they repair dangerous gas leaks in dozens of cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth."

According to a statement the gas workers put out on June 20 after voting to authorize a strike, National Grid has been seeking to cut health care benefits, change how overtime is allocated and outsource certain work like meter changes.

Earlier in June, gas workers rallied at the State House to air their complaints with the ongoing contract negotiations.

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