Con Ed Priorities Will Be Emergencies, Power Problems [POLL]

While the union dispute and worker lock-out continues, Con Ed gives customers tips on how it will affect them.

Emergencies and power problems will be the top priority for Con Edison while the utility company keeps its union workers locked out.

Con Ed has 348,000 customer accounts in Westchester, according to Con Ed spokesman Alan Drury. 

Negotiations between Con Ed and the union turned confrontational over the weekend. Talks broke down around midnight Saturday, as the contract expired. 

Reports say the union was willing to keep working without a contract but not willing to extend the contract for two weeks or to promise 7-day notice before a strike. At 1 a.m. Sunday the company instituted a lock-out of 8,500 union members and called in managers and management retirees. 

On its website, Con Ed offers a summary and a video about what customers need to know during the work stoppage. The priority: emergencies and power problems. Bills may reflect estimated use; pay online or by mail. Customer phone lines will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

According to an article this morning in The Gothamist:

 "...the union warns that if there's any serious problems, the managers won't be able to handle it.

"They have placed their customers and the public at great peril," union spokesman John Melia tells the Daily News. "These men and women don’t have the knowledge or the expertise or the capability to keep the system operating long term. These guys don’t know how to go down into flaming manholes." Not to be outdone, union president Harry Farrell told the Times"What they said last night to the people of New York was, ‘Drop dead.' They’re asking retired supervisors to climb poles and work in manholes and stuff — I just don’t see it happening." For now, Con Ed is suspending meter reading and shutting walk-in centers.

Con Ed workers haven't gone on strike since the summer of 1983; at that time there were 16,500 members working at the utility, and the Times reports that the strike lasted nine weeks, with one major incident affecting service. The two sides are currently at odds over pension benefits. Workers' current contract has expired, and while workers were willing to continue working without a contract during negotiations, Con Ed officials had demanded an agreement from the union not to strike without seven days' notice.

The union rejected that, and negotiations broke down around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Throughout yesterday there were a number of small-scale power outages, but Con Ed's spokesman says there were below average for a typical day in July." 


According to the Con Ed website, the utility company had been preparing for a work stoppage for months.

"The company said it appreciated the hard work of its union employees, but that it must work to achieve a contract that is fair and equitable for both employees and customers. Con Edison said its negotiators have presented numerous proposals to the union leadership to address long-term wage and benefit issues, in an effort to meet the needs of employees while respecting the cost concerns of customers," the company press release stated.

Pensions appear to be at the forefront of the dispute.

With continuing hot weather, Con Ed asks customers to conserve energy and offers these tips.

Chris July 06, 2012 at 05:01 PM
it is not unreasonable Con ed has been open and forthright about the negotations and there customers and workers.... The only think that will save the unions is direct intervention from the federal government (OBAMA)
Suzanne July 06, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Read the above,by Kevin. It gives you an idea of what is going on here. These workers don't want to strike. Managemnet gives them no choice. They aren't on strike, they were LOCKED OUT. Management did that. This is about corporate greed. If management was bargaining in good faith, this wouldn't be. Ask yourself, why does this CEO deserve an 8 figure retirement package and the workers who do the dangerous work don't deserve a pension? If they owe their costomers anything, it is to make sure their workers haeva decent wage and as safe working conditions as possible to get the job done, rahter than lock them out, try to strong arm negotiations, and replace them wit people who haven't done the job or haven't done it in years. These people's forte' is to devise "metrics": things that measure how fast aphone is picked up, harass and spy on where a truck is and in general justify their existance, by coming up with newer sillier ideas that they say will keep customers happy and workers more productive. Like those lovely phone menus that I cannot find one person who likes, or shipping call center jobs out of the country so you can talk to "Bob", who is realy Rashid, in India or where ever they can pay them $2/day. Teh anger at the unions is misdirected. The pension funds were place in the hands of gambling crooks on Wall Street. The bedfellows of the greedy CEO's who run Corporate America.
Lynn Marie Burbank July 06, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Verizon went on strike for similar reasons last year (pay, pension, benefits). They were on strike for two weeks when their union accepted a deal like the one Con Ed offered. They are still working under an extension almost a year later. The union has come out publicly stating that they regret accepting those terms because they do not have leverage at the bargaining table. They have advised other unions not to accept terms like that unless they want to see their employees left in limbo like the Verizon workers are. Also, Con Edison ended the meeting on Sunday. Union negotiators were happy to continue working toward a new deal when management told them to "take it or leave it". Take it or leave it is not negotiating in good faith. It is a threat. Also, Con Ed has been spending a lot of money advertising that their management can handle the jobs the union workers do without a problem. Then why do they actually need the 7 days notice. There was no 7 days notice when they locked the employees out. Lastly, the union workers at Con Edison are highly trained. Their jobs are inherently dangerous. What may appear to be guys "standing around a manhole" are actually safety requirements from Con Ed itself. If the guys didn't follow such precautions the company gives them a 20 day suspension. Management employees are not ready to do what the workers do and they know it. I only hope more management employees do not get hurt trying to do union jobs.
BobBaran July 08, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I wonder how many bullets and arrows missed the cables the union workers shot at and where did they go? Sounds like these union thugs aren't too worried about the welfare of the general public like they claim. Unions are merely self-serving in this day and age. They are as bad as the overpaid CEOs and politicians. The ConEd Union workers spend an average of 3-4 hrs a day actually on the job. The rest are on breaks, lunch and talking in the yards. They should get a fair contract, for 1/2 a days work.
BobBaran July 08, 2012 at 12:24 AM
It's a lock out because the company couldnt risk the union striking in the middle of repairs that could leave the networks in jeopardy or the public in danger. If the union execs (who make more than all but a handful of Corp execs) had agreed to extend the contract, the union would be getting paid rather than picketing. Do you think its a coincidence that the "ON Strike" signs have a "Locked Out" sticker pasted over them. The union was going out, and probably sabotaging their way out the door. Just a few bad apples... most of the union guys would never stoop so low.
BobBaran July 08, 2012 at 12:28 AM
The really stupid thing is that the company only wanted to modify the pension for new employees. It's called a cash-balance pension and is completely funded by the company. It is also IN ADDITION to the 401k. How many workers have that?
BobBaran July 08, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Con Edison offered a 2 week extention to work things out and the Union did not agree upon that. The contract expired and Con Edison had no choice to lock out workers that could (and would) leave the company and the public in jeopardy.
BobBaran July 08, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Jeff, Ask GM, many states, and cities how well catering to union demands works out. At some point you have to face reality my friend.
BobBaran July 08, 2012 at 12:33 AM
The managers are being screwed, the CEO is overpaid, and the union shouldn't pretend to care about anyone other than themselves.
BobBaran July 08, 2012 at 12:38 AM
A union thug injured a "management" employee by running up behind him and blowing an airhorn in his ear. Lynne's concern for management's well being does not seem to be shared by all.
Teleman July 08, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I am a very conservative thinker and voter- but even to me- when I look at the details of the Con Ed situation and the Verizon labor dispute, what I see are workers whose wages have remained flat for many,many years, and who work for very profitable companies-something is out of wack- these guys are not fighting for large wage increases, they are fighting to keep what they have- there is a bit of a difference between a public sector union that contracts with a local gov't that is going bankrupt and a private sector union like these, that are dealing with extremely profitable corporations whose ceo's make sometimes hundreds of times what the average worker does- I don't begrudge them that- but as ceo pay skyrockets and the average workers pay is decreasing or remaining flat, that is an issue.
Teleman July 08, 2012 at 01:52 AM
The bottom line here? We have very large profitable corporations who pay their ceo's sometimes hundreds of times what the average worker makes- and that's ok- but what's not ok is that they want to constantly take away from and decrease the quality of life for their workers- "oh, we have to compete with illegal laborers and 3rd world countries " they say- so we need to take the American worker down to that level? Brilliant. Also, don't forget when the average blue collar worker get his wages slashed and benefits destroyed, non-union workers and lower/middle management get hit even worse also.
Teleman July 08, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Lets also not forget that the lockout initiated by Con Ed, may cost up to $3.4 million a week in NYS unemployment benefits payed out to workers. The state really needs that!
Blue July 09, 2012 at 01:19 PM
How do u make the connection between non-union wages and benefits eroding as a result of union's wages and benefits going down ?
Suzanne July 10, 2012 at 05:06 AM
How do you KNOW that those were done by union members? Maybe it was a rabid 2ond Ammendment NRA hunter missing a shot -- they shoot people enough during hunting season. Maybe it was an accident? I'd really like to know how the conclusion was made that a "false " gas leak was reported. In the interest of saftey for yoursel and your neighbors, they tell you to report anything like that. My Neighbbor had a faulty pump. Thought the boiler was going to blow, so she reported it. Didn't land in jail.
Suzanne July 10, 2012 at 05:14 AM
You actually saw that? "Thug"? Really? MIddle-Class stuggling to survive. And Blue, I wouldn't line my cat's litterbox with any of Rupert Murdoch's publications. Unfair and Unbalanced.
Suzanne July 10, 2012 at 05:27 AM
They don't give a hoot about NYS taxpayers. Walmart's healthcare plan (and CVS,Target etc.) is to coach their poorly paid people on how to get on Medicaid. They want the whole pie and then they deflect the arguement by telling middle-class dolts "Hey that Union guy is trying to steal that crumb we left on the table." And you fall for it ! How sad. I hope no more middle managers get hurt, because they're out of their depth on behalf of a greedy bunch of top level managers. They won't care.
Blue July 10, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Unemployment is a fund paid into by all business' and u pay according to how many employees your company has fired/ and or let go. The more u let go the more u pay. Con Ed is paying for those people either way.
Blue July 10, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Question?? Worker joins union at 20. Puts in 30 yrs and retires at 50 with 55% salary and 80% benefits. Nice right ? Same worker now retired goes into open market and opens a business to use his or her skills to supplement and help with golden years or work for a small private firm. Why does said worker not open a unionized firm and hire union workers ?? Why do they go get themselves unskilled undocumented labor to help from the corner in the morning instead of going to the union hall for help????? Or why do they not go demand their buddy with the small firm who pays cash on the side pay full union wages ???? Just asking ??? Because now they are their own CEO !!! Its all a shell game on both sides. nobody is looking out for anyone but themselves and that goes for company and labor.
Suzanne July 10, 2012 at 10:01 PM
All boats rise with the tide. Duh. Many comapanies started giving healthcare and things like that in an efort to thwart unionization of their companies. You ever read a history book?
Suzanne July 10, 2012 at 10:06 PM
They should be reported for hiring illegal aliens. You know him. Call I.C.E. CAll the IRS.
Lynn Marie Burbank July 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM
The minimum retirement age at Con Ed is 55 with 30 years of service (you need to equal 85 in age + service). Most do not go out as soon as they can. The structure of the pension rewards people who stay longer. 62, 65, & 67 are the ages that have significant value because of social security/medicare and the amount your monthly pension will be. Most retirees my husband knows actually do retire. They did their time and are now enjoying the fruits of their labor. The ones who have started businesses are family run mom & pop type businesses that would have no need for the services provided by a union. To be honest most people we know that have "returned to work" are doing jobs like teaching where they are once again in a union job. If you know of a retiree who is evading taxes or hiring illegals, please report them to the authorities. I have no sympathy for anyone who engages in these practices. We have friends who are management and union. All are suffering. It is just the CEO's and their cronies who are making out in this deal. Lower management doesn't want to be back in the streets. Many of them are former union employees who went to management because they didn't want to continue doing dangerous back-breaking work after 25 or 30 years. This needs to end soon for the good of all involved.
NAO July 11, 2012 at 12:53 AM
George, The union did not strike. Con Ed kicked them out and used an excuse that they could strike at any moment as the reason for the lockout. Even though the reason that they used is weak at best since they have not called a strike in almost 20 years and from what I have read the workers were not planning a strike. I do not know if other utilities will consider crossing the picket line if they were forced out instead of calling a strike.
NAO July 11, 2012 at 01:33 AM
1) Con Ed's CEO pension = $18.4 million. How many Con Ed employees w/the same length of service have the same %age of salary in their pension? 1a) Wouldn't it make sense that if they reduce the pension across the board and include executives? 2) The CEO's 2011 compensation was 11 million (30% higher than in 2009 ($7.9 million) & almost 3 times 2008 ($3.75 million). How many people have tripled their salary in the last 3 years? 3) Con Ed asked for a 7 day notice to strike.Their last strike was in 1983. They would not sign and were locked out. Wasn’t that punitive? These items effect the customer: 1) Con Ed’s profit last year-$1 billion. 2) Less than 5% of each customer’s bill pays for this union's salaries-( this equals less than $10 of a $200 bill. 3) In 1983 they had 16.5K lineman, now they have 8.5K linemen. 1 to 2 linemen die each year on the job. Con Ed replaced the linemen with 5K workers. Some have not performed the job in 20 years. Has Con Ed updated their infrastructure in the last 19 years or reduced their service area to warrant almost a 50% reduction in linemen? The overarching question is Where is the Public Service Commission? Why aren’t they doing anything? Why is Con Ed getting rate increases year after year when they are posting record profits? All I am saying is that Con Ed needs to be fair and treat all of their employees the same.
NAO July 11, 2012 at 01:38 AM
what is the probability that a union who did not threaten to strike and has not called a strike in almost years would strike? These workers do not get paid if they strike and can not collect unemployment if they called a strike so why would they strike? The have the same bills as the rest of us.
NAO July 11, 2012 at 01:47 AM
I have a question does this mean that Con Ed planned the lock out a week in advance? If they did, there was really nothing that the union could have done to change their minds.
jeff meyer July 11, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Blue, the entire scenario that you present is a shell game. What if? What if? Then more what if's? If in fact you are aware of a person commiting the act you present then report them. Does your scenario have anything to do with 8,500 skilled and essential workers being locked out of their jobs? Jeff Meyer Tuckahoe, NY
Blue July 11, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Oh Jeff's back. I'm talking about the mindset of union workers vs managment. Once aa union worker becomes mangement ( or their own boss )the mindset changes. And if I'm the only person in this world who knows a current , ex union worker who retires ( at whatever point in their lives Lynn ) or gov. union employee that becomes their own boss and does not pay union wages ( which is different than prevailing wages ) or offer huge benefit packages to its employees than none of these comments are based on reality. I'm not judging but lets be honest.
S. Z. July 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM
That's not actually what the poll is about, though.. it's asking if the dispute will affect YOU, not what who you think is right or wrong in the situation.
Blue July 11, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Suzanne. " duh". Really ? Is that where we are now ? I like to debate but I try not make condescending comments or question other commenters intellect. But I do see your point on all boats rising with the tide and it can work in a strong economy but not at this point I don't believe. I think what happened is the non-union tide went into recession and union's kept level or rising during the recession so I have no problem if managment of any company looks at restructuring of future employee benefits as a way to ensure future profitability. Do you enjoy having your taxes pay for the pensions of postal workers as it loses billions per quarter instead of the law changed so the pension doesn't have to be fully funded at all times? I think sometimes things have to be changed. As for the CEO. I really think if the billion dollar company wasn't gov regulated and he were in the total private sector his base salary would be higher than 18 million nevermind total comp. package so I don't think its that crazy. BTW what "book" were you referring to that I should read.


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