Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon that workers will immediately return to work at Con Edison, which has locked out thousands of workers since the beginning of this month, to handle stormy weather that is heading towards New York City.
The utility company locked out more than 8,000 workers on July 1, and has come under increasing pressure from elected officials to resolve the standoff in its negotiations with its largest union, the Utility Workers of America.
Yesterday, the governor called on the Public Service Commission to intervene in the dispute to ensure safety, even though the commission protested that it had no legal right to intervene.
Today, forecasts of severe weather has brought the two sides together, at least temporarily.
“New York City poses a special threat and a special challenge because of Con Edison’s labor situation,” Cuomo at the hastily called press conference, where he called the combination of the lockout and coming storms “dangerous.”
He said some 3,000 necessary workers would return immediately, and stay on as long as needed depending on the extent of the storm and any repairs or cleanup required. He added that the labor negotiations would continue.
The lockout will then continue once the storm passes, the governor said. He also said that the action was taken now, despite earlier extreme weather, because the coming storm is the “most extreme.”
The 5,000 workers not invited back are still locked out.
Moving forward in the negotiations, Cuomo said that, “My representatives will be at the table, and I will be at the table as needed.”
A spokeswoman from Con Edison sent the following statement, noting that employees will report for work at 4 p.m. today:
“We applaud the Governor’s support and leadership for doing what’s in the best interests of all New Yorkers. Electric operations union employees will report to work beginning on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift today in order to assist with potential power restoration resulting from approaching storms. We also will continue to work with the union leadership on a new contract that is fair and equitable for our employees and our customers.”
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