The high stakes for Con Ed workers
THERE IS some major union-busting going on in New York City, which needs your attention. Con Ed, the sole provider of electric, gas and steam power to the New York area, including Westchester County in the northern suburbs, has locked out its 8,500 skilled union workers in an effort to eradicate pensions (among many other unfair demands).
Support locked-out Con Ed workers by getting on the union's text-alert system. Text "UWUA" to 877-877.
Visit one of the picket lines at:
-- Headquarters, 4 Irving Place, Manhattan
-- 125th Street Office, 360 W. 125th St., Manhattan
-- 110th Street Yard, 2141 1st Ave., Manhattan
-- The Learning Center, 43-82 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
-- Astoria Yard, 31-01 20th Ave., Astoria
-- Flatbush Office, 30 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn
-- 3rd Avenue Yard, 222 1st St., Brooklyn
-- Neptune Yard, 1201 Neptune Ave., Brooklyn
-- College Point Yard, 124-15 31st Ave., Queens
-- Hillside Office, 88-11 165th St., Jamaica
-- Fordham Yard, 448 East Fordham Rd., Bronx
-- Van Nest Yard, 1601 Bronxdale Ave., Bronx
The company recorded a record profit of over $1 billion last year alone, and rewarded CEO Kevin Burke with an $11 million salary last year and an $18 million pension package, among other perks. All of the members of the Board of Directors received a 22 percent raise as well.
When the lockout began, the company immediately cancelled union members' health insurance, putting all of them at risk. We believe all of this was a planned action taken by the company because of a number of factors.
Within the past few years, the company has hired a well-known union-buster from Virginia, Craig Ivey, and placed him on the Board of Directors. Since Ivey's hiring, union employees have been harassed by management, mostly by suspending them without pay for "safety violations."
During this time, the company hired a large number of management staff in preparation for the lockout. They have an unrealistic staffing level of 5,000 managers to 8,500 union workers. They are currently running the utility with these managers, as well as hired scab labor, mostly from down South, and some from Mr. Ivey's former utility.
Politicians have been mostly silent on the lockout. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not supported us, and neither has New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
We believe that Mr. Cuomo is silent because his former advisor, Michael Del Giudice, is on the Board of Directors. Con Ed has also made a huge campaign contribution in the amount of $250,000 to the "Committee to Save New York," a pro-business group supporting Cuomo's agenda of reeling in state spending. The spending was reduced by trimming the pay and benefits of the state's unionized workers.
Since the lockout occurred on July 1, the union has set up picket lines throughout the area and has organized a few rallies as well. At the last rally, over 15,000 union supporters showed up at the company's headquarters and marched to Union Square. At the rally, many of the area's other local unions and members joined us in a show of support. The rally received almost no media attention.
We need your help. We, as union members, see this as a huge battle in the war against working families. If these corporate giants win here, the entire nation will lose. It will be a huge blow to the labor movement.
Stephen F. Brennan, Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2, Mechanic A