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Con Ed Contract Talks Expected To Resume Thursday

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TWC News: Con Ed Contract Talks Expected To Resume Thursday
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Consolidated Edison workers were back outside company headquarters in Union Square Monday, a day after the utility locked out 8,500 union employees when their contract expired.

Harry Farrell, President of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America, is expected to call for federal mediators to intervene to get talks started again.

Talks broke down early Sunday morning with both sides saying they remain far apart on many issues.

Both sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Thursday.

"They want to freeze our pension, at least triple our medical coverage, take away our sick time, there was no raises on the table. They want to give us nothing. They just want everything taken away," said Con Ed worker Salvatore Giercio.

"We had a contract and we were fine with what was in there, but that's not good enough. They want to go through and they want to hack it," said Con Ed worker Chris Spadafora.

Con Ed says the union refused to sign an agreement offering a two-week extension of the current contract with assurances the union wouldn't strike without notice.

"Our priority is to get our workers back to work and try to work out an agreement with union leadership where they will agree to continue talking and agree to give either side advance notice if they plan a work stoppage of any kind," said Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin.

The utility has 5,000 managers to run operations and respond to emergencies but the locked-out workers are concerned that the managers are not familiar with the tasks.

The unionized workers say a substation manager was burned on the job Monday, but the utility says the manager was not seriously hurt.

The company says the manager "knows this job inside and out" and has done it before.

Union organizers argue more accidents like this could happen.

"These are the people that they're bringing in that have no clue what they're doing. They're trying to do our job and they can't handle it," said one union member.

Con Ed has suspended meter readings during the lockout.

The utility has also closed many of its walk-in payment centers, but bills can be paid online or over the phone.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that City Hall is watching the situation carefully.

"So far, we've not had any problems," said Bloomberg. "There's always routine things to do and we seem to be getting a little break here in the humidity. We'll be watching, it seems fine. "

Meanwhile, the labor dispute has some New Yorkers on edge as the city prepares for yet another week of hot weather.

"I think they need to work it out rather quickly. New Yorkers need electric, especially during the summertime. There's elderly people to be considered, so they need to get it done quickly," said one New Yorker.

"It sounds like trouble to me, like we're going to have some trouble coming up. But I don't know what I could do as a civilian. Is there anything that I could do to really change the situation?" said another New Yorker.

Con Ed is asking customers to conserve energy during the work stoppage.

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