(July 17, 2018) — Since June 25, more than 1,100 USW gas workers employed by National Grid in Massachusetts have been locked out of their jobs as the company seeks to end its defined benefit pension plan and offer only 401(k) savings plans and fewer health care benefits to new hires.
More than three weeks later, citing public safety concerns, Massachusetts’ elected officials are appealing to National Grid to end the lockout and many of its cities and towns are halting or delaying non-emergency gas work following National Grid’s lockout of 1,200 of its most experienced employees.
Here is a Fact Sheet from USW Locals 12003 and 12012 regarding the lockout:
— National Grid has locked out the 1,200 members of USW Local 12003 and 12012 who do the critical work of maintaining natural gas lines for homes, schools, and businesses across Massachusetts.
— The gas workers’ contract with National Grid expired on June 24. The gas workers have offered to extend their contract while bargaining continues, but National Grid instead recklessly chose to lock them out of work sites across Massachusetts.
— The gas workers are merely asking to continue the same working conditions and benefits they have previous received, even as National Grid sees tremendous pro fits and benefits from recent tax cuts.
National Grid Threatens Basic Economic Justice
— The proposals by National Grid for the next contract would be economically devastating to gas workers and their families
— Their changes would make thousands of workers subject to sweeping cuts to wages and healthcare benefits, foist a drastically reduced medical plan on current and retired employees, and force new hires to accept an inferior retirement plan.
— New hires would also lose post-65 medical benefits and reduced sick time and life insurance
— The tactic of hoping older employees will sacrifice the benefits of new hires is a disgraceful attempt to drive a wedge between employees.
— None of these attacks on the middle class are driven by economic necessity. National Grid is a very successful, multi-billion dollar company that just received a massive tax break from the Trump Administration and is seeking tens of millions of additional dollars from Massachusetts consumers in its upcoming rate case.
Public Safety Is Not A Bargaining Chip
— National Grid’s actions aren’t just harmful to the middle class- they are putting workers, Massachusetts residents and public safety officials in harm’s way.
— Gas work is dangerous, and requires experienced professionals. Yet National Grid is proposing to outsource much of the most dangerous work — like live gas and mark out work — to poorly trained, inexperienced contractors with insufficient inspectors and monitors.
— Additionally, National Grid has chosen to lock out union members while contract negotiations continue, and replace them with less experienced contractors and management staff, despite United Steelworkers offer to continue working without a contract.
— These actions are DANGEROUS — gas work needs the most experienced, trained professionals available. Anything less puts everyone’s safety at risk.