Updated 07/01/2012 05:54 PM
Con Ed Locks Out Workers Following Failed Contract Talks
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Consolidated Edison and its employees union had a war of words Sunday over who was responsible for the lockout that left 8,500 workers off the job.
Talks between Con Ed and Local 1-2, Utility Workers Union of America broke down early Sunday.
Both sides kept talking past the midnight deadline but the utility dismissed the workers at 2 a.m. Sunday and brought in 5,000 managers to run its electric, gas and steam operations.
About 300 workers protested by the company's headquarters by Union Square in Manhattan on Saturday night, and the workers are planning to hold another protest at the site on Monday morning.
Con Ed officials said they offered to extend the current contract until July 14 in an effort to reach a new deal, and sent NY1 a signed document showing it made the offer.
The company says it dismissed the workers because it could not get assurances from the union that it would not call a sudden strike. The utility also says the contract extension offer remained on the table.
"We offered a two-week extension of the current contract letting all of the members continue to work this week and the next, as long as there was no threat of a strike or a work stoppage for our customers, and the union leadership refused," said Con Ed spokesman Michael Clendenin.
The union disputed those claims, as a spokesman said the two-week extension offer was never made, and said workers told Con Ed they would were willing to work without a contract until negotiations could continue.
"I will say categorically that they are misrepresenting themselves. There was no such extension offered. We offered to extend," said Local 1-2 spokesman John Melia. "We offered to work without a collective bargaining agreement."
The union said Con Ed was using any "underhanded trick" it can to bust the union.
The last time Con Edison workers went on strike was in 1983.
Meanwhile, Con Ed's website (coned.com) said the utility's first priority on Sunday was responding to emergencies.
A video reminds customers most meter readings were suspended Sunday, so bills could reflect estimated usage.
To avoid an estimated bill, customers could report their own meter readings.
The website also said walk-in service centers in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens were closed.
Con Ed Reminds NYers Of Energy-Saving Tips
Consolidation Edison urged its customers to conserve energy during the work stoppage and the Sunday heat wave.
The utility recommends setting the air conditioner or thermostat no lower than 78 degrees.
It also suggests running big appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and dryers early in the morning or late at night when it is cooler outside.
The company also urges New Yorkers to turn off lights, air conditioners and other appliances before leaving home.
Any customers with service problems or questions should call 1-800-75-CONED.