Noisy strikers gather outside Con Ed’s Manhattan headquarters
Unionized workers held a noisy protest outside Consolidated Edison headquarters as their leadership plots its next move following failed contract talks and a lockout.
A union spokesman said Harry Farrell, president of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America, on Monday will call for federal mediators to intervene to get talks started again.
Both sides said there are many issues on which they have not reached agreement.
Union spokesman John Melia said Monday there was nothing new to report. he planned to issue a statement later in the day.
“We’ve been trying to get them back to the table since yesterday,” company spokesman Mike Clendenin said Monday on “Good Morning New York.”
“The people who are doing the public an injustice are management,” said mechanic Rick Brown. “There’s nothing more that we’d like to do than be on the clock.”
Brown was part of a noisy scene outside headquarters that included a chorus of honking, cheers and whistling that could be heard from a couple of blocks away. The honking was a show of support by drivers passing about 200 union demonstrators.
Many union workers wore T-shirts that said, “If we go out, the lights go out.” they also featured a cracked, yellow light bulb with a red circle and slash.
Boos, catcalls and foul language erupted as management workers left the building.
Gregory Stephenson, a government relations employee at Con Ed who exited the company’s Union Square corporate office to a loud chorus of boos, said he was disappointed by demonstrators’ behavior.
“I understand the union’s sentiment, but once you start to hurl abusive language – I just think there needs to be a level of decorum and respect,” he said.
Con Ed closed walk-in centers, suspended meter readings and limited work on major construction projects in New York after the talks broke down around 2 a.m. Sunday, a couple of hours after the existing contract expired. The impasse came as New York endured more high temperatures that increased demand for air conditioning among the utility’s 3.2 million customers.
There were about 200 outages overnight, nearly all of which were resolved by morning, Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert said Monday. he said management personnel were standing by, ready to address any problems.
Temperatures were expected to be in the high 80s and low 90s throughout the week.
The extreme weather included vicious storms from Indiana to New Jersey and south to Virginia that left 17 people dead and 2.7 million without power. most of the damage came in the mid-Atlantic region, and only scattered outages across Con Ed’s service area in New York were reported as of Sunday. Con Ed said it is keeping a close watch on its system and has trained managers working on essential operations.
The 8,500 unionized workers told the company they’d be willing to work without a contract to keep the power company running, said Melia, who disputed the company’s claim that its managers could do the job of the union workers.