The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 76/No. 28      July 30, 2012

(front page)
Thousands rally in NY to back
workers locked out by Con Ed
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
July 17 rally for Con Edison workers in Manhattan as they enter third week of struggle against lockout. Utility Workers Union faces concerted, planned assault by power company.

NEW YORK—Thousands of Con Edison workers and their supporters rallied at Union Square here July 17 to protest the giant electrical utility’s lockout of more than 8,000 workers since July 1. The rally was called by Utility Workers Union Local 1-2 and the New York City Central Labor Council.

American Postal Workers Union, Communications Workers union, Transport Workers union, Teamsters, United Federation of Teachers, and others had contingents at the rally.

Every time rally speakers said “your fight is our fight” they were loudly cheered.

Utility Workers spokesperson John Melia told the Militant that truck drivers and crane operators who belong to the Teamsters union and the Operating Engineers are refusing to cross picket lines, hampering Con Edison’s efforts to install a transformer in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“The police are trying to lean on us to take down the picket lines,” Melia said. “But we have a legal right to picket.”

“The pickets have not had any effect on our moving the transformer,” Con Ed spokesperson Allan Drury told the Militant.

So far Con Edison has avoided major disruptions in electrical service, using 5,000 supervisors along with contractors to do the work of the locked-out union members. Workers on the picket line say at least four Con Ed employees have been injured on the job since the lockout began due to the company sending in employees without adequate training. Supervisors are working 12 hours a day trying to keep up.

Con Edison is proposing a steep increase in the amount workers pay for medical insurance as well as cuts in pensions for new hires.

“I would say no to this,” Bill Munson, a cable mechanic with 39 years at Con Ed, said at a July 14 picket line in Manhattan. “We’re fighting for the new hires. That’s my son or my nephew or my grandson.”

“They are trying to break the unions,” said Margaret Mangino, who joined the picket line to back her son, one of the locked-out workers. “I think it’s going to swing back, where we have stronger unions again. It’s the only way.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the governor “has urged both sides to resolve the lockout.” Several city council members and Democratic Party politicians have criticized Con Edison for imposing the lockout, but none have come out backing the union.
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