At Con-Ed Lockout Protest, Unions Embrace Class War

Categories: Con Ed, Unions

Marchers at yesterday's protest of the Con Edison lockout.
The Con Edison lockout of 8,500 workers is now well into its third week, and there doesn't appear to be any end is in sight.

Negotiations between the utility giant and members of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 resume today, but sources inside the negotiations say so recent talks haven't gone anywhere.

Con Ed locked out its union employees at the beginning of the month, when they wouldn't promise not to strike on short notice. Since then, it has been filling the gap by reassigning 5,000 managers to do the field maintenance necessary to keep the grid running through heat waves and brown-outs.

Locked-out workers tried to turn up the pressure yesterday with a noisy demonstration that began outside Con Ed's headquarters on Irving Place and proceeded to Union Square.

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As New York Heats Up, ConEd Bosses and Workers Return to the Table

Maybe they can be friends after all.

Last week, as the heat wave began to swallow New York whole, we reported on the failed negotiations that left 8,500 ConEd workers unemployed. It was a labor-corporate disconnection, as the pension plan proposed by the top dogs at the electrical titan was met with fierce opposition by the Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America. Just as the temperatures started soaring, the people in charge of keeping our A/C's running were left high and dry.

But today, with a weather report that is predicting nearly 100 degrees for New Yorkers to bare, the two parties are back at the bargaining table to settle the dispute. The talks began on Thursday, with federal mediators swooping in to save the day; negotiations continued into late last night and will resume this afternoon. 

However, it seems as if the sides remain in disagreement, even as New York slowly bakes alive.

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ConEd Negotiations End in the Dismissal of 8,500 Workers

Well, this completely backfired.

Over the past ten days, the Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America and ConEd officials have  been arguing over the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement that ended at midnight Saturday. 

As the deadline slowly passed last night, the electrical titan that powers New York City and Westchester County decided to lock out 8,500 workers and replace them with 5,000 managers - a team of supervisors that the company hopes will be able to keep power running without the interference of losing 8,500 laborers with the snap of a finger. Imagine losing your job at 2 in the morning?

However, ConEd is not calling it a "lockout" because it simply told workers to not show up to work. Passive aggression as an union-busting tactic works too. But, by shutting off communications for the 8,500 workers and replacing them with supervisors, a strike planned for midnight was swiftly avoided, even as three hundred workers rallied Downtown at the same time, chanting "If we go out, the lights go out!"

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Cool Interactive Map Shows You Which City Blocks Use the Most Electricity

A new interactive map tool, created by the Modi Research Group at Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, reveals some unsurprising patterns about New York City's energy consumption.

The tool can tell you, down to individual buildings, which parts of the city used the most energy in 2011. Click on an individual building, and you'll get a pie graph showing you what types of energy were used -- gas, water, electricity, or heating.

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Bloomberg: "Plan on the Possibility of No Power Downtown"

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Mayor Bloomberg just wrapped up a speech to press gathered in Coney Island reiterating many of the warnings and plans he has issued in anticipation of Hurricane Irene's arrival: Evacuation Zone A residents and those living in the Rockaways should begin their mandatory evacuation, the MTA will stop service at noon and to plan for bridges to be closed later today. He also announced that Con Edison may elect to cut power if they feel a storm surge and flooding will damage their equipment. UPDATE: Mayor Bloomberg also said that all NYCHA elevators will be shut down, but there is no time frame for that yet.

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"Pippa Butt Lift" Is Hot New Surgery Craze; Post Employees Ordered to Preserve Documents

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  • People are now asking, en masse apparently, for surgery to make their butts look like Pippa Middleton's. A plastic surgeon in Miami told Fox News that "ever since the royal wedding, Pippa Middleton has become the new queen of the booty! She opens the doors to those who did not know you could have a small, shapely and perky backside without the large size." It doesn't stop there; people are also demanding Pippa and Kate's nose and eyes. [Fox News]
  • In a memo sent out yesterday, New York Post employees were told to keep any documents pertaining in any way to phone hacking: "Any documents pertaining to unauthorized retrieval of phone or personal data, to payments for information to government officials, or that is related in any way to these issues, must be retained," reads the legal team's memo. In editor Col Allan's memo, he writes that the staff is required to do this "in light of what has gone on in London at News of the World, and not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful." The staff of the Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch's other New York paper, was not asked to do any such thing. [Media Decoder / NYT]

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Your ConEd Bill Is About to Get Ridiculous

Con Edison is raising rates by up to 12 percent in June, just in time for summer heat waves. This is on top of the previous four percent increase. Businesses could be looking at an 18 percent hike. So, the choice is yours: revel in your wonderful A/C and spend everything you have on energy bills, or follow my advice from last summer on how to survive sans A/C or even a fan. It's do-able, kind of.


Who's Worse, Con Ed or the MTA?

Yesterday, a tipster sent us a photo from the Q/B elevator platform at Brooklyn's Atlantic/Pacific subway station, where, due to an electrical outage, it "sucks to be wheelchair-bound." He says, "I think the MTA is taking advantage, however, to pass the blame to Con Ed. Shit is always broken down around that station, and I think the manager is taking the opportunity for once to pin it on the power problems. The lights, escalator, etc., seemed to be utilizing electricity just fine." (Photo of the allegedly broken 'vator and duplicitous signage after the jump.)

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Times Square Bomb Suspect Not Driven By Bad Housing

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If the FBI really does have the right Times Square bombing culprit in Faisal Shahzad, the naturalized American citizen from Pakistan who was picked up last night at JFK, then his motives don't appear to have anything to do with bad housing. Here's a web shot of a home in the leafy Connecticut town of Shelton, outside of Bridgeport, where Shahzad and his family allegedly lived for three years, according to the Times. The posting for the "beautiful single-family home" lists the seller/realtor as one Faisal Shahzad, so that much checks out. Note the kitchen's microwave, stainless steel range, dishwasher and oak-veneer cabinets. There's also a pair of cozy bedrooms upstairs, and a white picket fence outside.

Hard as it is to figure what makes someone park a gas and fertilizer-filled SUV in a Broadway bus lane on a crowded Saturday night, it's worth remembering that New York's last genuine Mad Bomber, the legendary Con-Ed hating George Metesky, whose dozens of bombs haunted the city for years, also lived in Connecticut, the well-known Nut-meg state.

Rainstorm Kills 6, Leaves Thousands Without Power (Maybe Till the End of the Week)

The weekend storm was unpleasant for most of us, but somewhat worse for tens of thousand of New Yorkers who lost their electric service.

As of this morning, the Advance reports, 14,560 households in the borough are still blacked out. NY1 tallies 8,400 homes out of service in the Bronx, 5,900 in Queens, 3,790 in Brooklyn. Even 89 apartments in Manhattan lost and have yet to get back power.

NYPD got more 911 calls during the storm than they had on 9/11.

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