New Kids singer rallies with USW members locked out by National Grid

Contact: Michael Sherry, 617-646-1026 

Boston, Mass. (July 18, 2018) – Gas workers from United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 12003 and 12012, who have been locked out of job sites across Massachusetts by National Grid, were joined by hundreds of supporters across the Greater Boston Labor Council today for a rally and march from City Hall Plaza to the State House. In all, workers from more than 40 allied labor unions gathered to highlight the reckless and unfair negotiating tactics of National Grid, which has cut off health care to locked out employees and has accumulated a host of potential safety violations by replacement contractors.

“The massive turnout for today’s rally should send a loud and clear signal to National Grid: Massachusetts is watching right now,” said Steve Tolman, President of the MA AFL-CIO. “Using the health of your employees and the safety of your customers as bargaining chips to cut an unfair deal is wrong, and workers are standing up to say so.”

Many leaders and workers in the labor movement spoke at the rally, and one highlight was a rendition of the National Anthem and remarks by Joey McIntyre, a Massachusetts resident and singer from the iconic pop group New Kids on the Block. McIntyre’s father, Thomas McIntyre, is a legendary figure in the labor movement.

“I’m proud to stand with these hardworking men and women who provide safe and reliable gas service to communities across Massachusetts,” said Joey McIntyre. “My father is a member of the bricklayers union and we’re a strong union family. It’s disgraceful that National Grid is locking out these gas workers and we’ll continue to stand with them as they fight for a fair contract.”

The gas workers are fighting to preserve health, pension, and wage protections that keep their members within the ranks of the middle class. Workers have been without pay since the lockout began on June 24th, and their health insurance was cut off several weeks ago, forcing many employees to make extremely tough decisions about how to pay bills and cover the cost of healthcare for sick children and families, some of whom are battling cancer and other serious illnesses. 

“It’s unconscionable that National Grid has thrown over 1,000 of its most experienced employees off the job and withdrew their health care benefits,” said Richard Rogers, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council. “National Grid is jeopardizing public safety and peoples’ lives to maximize profits and line the pockets of their already obscenely well-compensated executives.” 

Since the lockout, public safety has been a major concern of elected officials in Boston and around the Commonwealth, with moratoriums or additional reviews of National Grid projects issued in Boston, Somerville, Lowell, Medford, Malden, Braintree, and Haverhill. National Grid replacement workers have less training and experience, and the lockout has prevented the most knowledgeable and skilled gas workers from working on potentially dangerous job sites. 

“We are grateful to the leaders in these communities and to all of our labor allies for standing up for our workers and for the safety of residents,” said USW Local 12003 President Joe Kirylo. “National Grid is using public safety as a bargaining chip in a dangerous attempt to force concessions at the negotiating table, and we are glad that residents of these municipalities will no longer be a part of their efforts.” 

Leaders from USW Locals 12003 and 12012 have repeatedly offered to extend their current contract while bargaining continues, but National Grid has refused in an attempt to pressure workers to give in and accept the company’s final offer.

 “It’s completely reckless and irresponsible that National Grid continues to use this lockout as a negotiating tactic,” said John Buonopane, president of USW Local 12012. “Our members work incredibly hard for this company, and it’s sad to see how little National Grid cares for its employees, their families and public safety.”

National Grid’s profits soared 24 percent last year. The company also received a massive tax cut from the Trump Administration and is seeking tens of millions of additional dollars from Massachusetts consumers as part of its upcoming rate case. 

The unions participating in today’s march included: AFT-MA, APWU Boston Local 100, Boston Climate Action Network, Boston Building Trades Council, Boston Carmen’s Union, Boston Firefighters Local 718, Boston Teachers Union, Bricklayers Local 3, Community Labor United, Green Justice Coalition, IATSE Local 11, IBEW Local 103, IBEW Local 1505, IBEW Local 2222, Ironworkers Local 7, Laborers International Union, Machinists District 15, Machinists Local 100, Mail Handlers Local 301, MassCOSH/USW 9358, Mass Nurses Assoc, Massachusetts Teachers Assoc, NAGE/SEIU 5000, NE Regional Council of Carpenters, Operating Engineers Local 877, Painters DC 35, Pipefitters Local 537, Plumbers Local 12, 1199 SEIU, SEIU 32BJ, SEIU Local 509, SEIU Local 888, Sheetmetal Workers Local 17, Teamsters Local 25, Teamsters Local 122, UFCW Local 1445, UNITE/HERE NE Joint Board, UNITE/HERE Local 26, Utility Workers 369.

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

Lockout at National Grid

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