Gas Workers Raise New Safety and Cost Concerns as National Grid Lockout Enters Third Month

MEDIA CONTACT: Laura Wareck, lwareck@oneillandassoc.com, 978-660-9587

Gas workers with United Steel Workers Locals 12003 and 12012 are raising new safety and cost concerns as National Grid’s lockout of 1,200 experienced employees enters its third month.

National Grid’s decision to lock out workers rather than allow employees to continue doing their jobs while negotiations continue has become increasingly expensive. The company has already spent millions of dollars to cover a variety of costs, including a summer barbecue and housing for replacement workers and ongoing police details on worksites.

“It’s concerning that National Grid is wasting millions of dollars on a lockout that never needed to happen – particularly given the company’s history of trying to recoup those costs from Massachusetts’ ratepayers,” said John Buonopane, president of USW Local 12012. “This fall National Grid will be asking for $51 million from Massachusetts consumers in its upcoming rate case and is expecting to tack on another rate hike. National Grid says it cares about costs, but ultimately it’s ratepayers that will be on the hook for the company’s wasteful and reckless decisions.”

More than 50 potential safety violations by National Grid replacement contractors have been recorded and reported to the Department of Public Utilities since the lockout began. These violations, many of which have put workers and residents at risk, are a direct consequence of National Grid refusing to allow its most experienced and well-trained employees to enter job sites.

As a result, several major cities and more than a dozen local communities across Massachusetts have issued moratoriums or called for additional review of non-emergency National Grid projects, including Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Somerville, Quincy, Revere, Abington, Arlington, Dracut, Braintree, Everett, Haverhill, Malden, Medford, Methuen, Milton, Stoneham and Weymouth.

“The reckless National Grid lockout is putting Massachusetts residents at risk and that’s why so many communities are taking action to halt non-emergency gas work,” said Joe Kirylo, President of USW Local 12003. “It makes no sense that National Grid continues to force its most knowledgeable and experienced workers to the sidelines, while inexperienced replacement workers are making mistakes on complicated and potentially dangerous jobs.”

Union leaders have also filed six lockout-related charges with the National Labor Relations Board, including at least one challenging the legality of the lockout. The lockout continues to take a toll on workers, who have been without paychecks and health insurance for over two months.

“Our workers have been scrambling to pay for essential medical care – not out of necessity, but because National Grid is using the paychecks and health insurance of workers and their families as leverage to strengthen its bargaining position,” added Buonopane. “We are continuing to negotiate, but so far National Grid has failed bring any serious proposals to the table that take into account public safety and the hard work of our members.”

National Grid’s refusal to negotiate a fair contract comes as the company’s profits soared 24 percent last year. The company also received a massive tax cut from the Trump Administration.

USW Locals 12003 and Local 12012 represent about 1,250 gas workers in more than 85 Massachusetts cities and towns. 

For more information, please visit www.lockoutatnationalgrid.com

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