National Grid Gas Workers Consider Strike

(Photograph courtesy of Clean Energy Fuels.)

(Photograph courtesy of Clean Energy Fuels.)

Workers with Boston Gas Local 12003 United Steelworkers voted to authorize a strike against National Grid over critical public safety issues.

Workers are prepared to strike if necessary in part due to National Grid’s continued push to hire contractors to fill many vital jobs currently performed by experienced employees. At the same time, National Grid wants to eliminate a key layoff clause that protects workers and ensures that adequate staffing levels are available to serve Massachusetts communities.

“Massachusetts relies on our workers to repair dangerous gas leaks and protect and maintain key infrastructure, yet National Grid wants to outsource this work to contractors who often lack the experience and expertise to adequately do it,” said Joe Kirylo, president of the local chapter, representing 800 National Grid employees in more than 35 Massachusetts cities and towns. “The safety of our members and our communities is our top priority, and we hope all those concerned about ensuring safe, high quality gas work in Massachusetts will stand with us to prevent these harmful and damaging proposals from moving forward.”

National Grid has already replaced many experienced union employees with contractors, a move that has in some instances led to poor site work and created added safety concerns, the union said. The company now wants to shift even more responsibility onto contractors, who may not have the same training, skills and experience as the employees they would be replacing, a statement added.

“National Grid’s push to outsource critical work is particularly concerning during this period when the Administration and state legislature have invested so much time and resources into addressing gas leaks in key areas throughout Massachusetts,” added Kirylo. “It’s unfortunate that National Grid is putting profits ahead of safety. We know National Grid can afford to do the right thing, and our workers are committed to fighting for our communities against these dangerous proposals.”

National Grid has also proposed using contractors to perform the complicated and critical work of identifying and marking out gas mains. Highly skilled, knowledgeable union gas workers ensure that National Grid’s gas mains and services in Boston, Braintree, Brookline and other communities are protected from inadvertent damage that could result in leaks, ignition or explosions. Now National Grid intends to outsource all of this work to contractors.

In addition, National Grid is pushing significant healthcare, benefit, wage and overtime concessions that would generate added costs for workers. At a time when many companies, cities and towns are making efforts to lift low wage workers out of poverty and establish a living wage of at least $15 an hour, the United Kingdom-based company is seeking to move in the opposite direction and cut starting wages for new call center employees from $15.50 to $14.10 an hour.

“National Grid is extremely profitable and it is unacceptable that the company is squeezing workers and pushing these substantial cuts that will hurt employees and their families,” said Kirylo. “Just as concerning, these moves by National Grid could impact the safety of our communities and the public. National Grid is extremely profitable and made billions in profits last year. The company can and should do better for Massachusetts residents, ratepayers and communities.”

The union’s contract with National Grid expires at the end of the month.

3 thoughts on “National Grid Gas Workers Consider Strike

    • In all fairness, after pulling their L-2 filing, this is one of the lessor egregious unions. Where some union leadership members use half of the unions due to pay themselves (putting them in the 1%’er group), this is not one of them. Kirylo only pays himself $20K out of a just over $400K dues budget.

      Of course unions still benefit in general here by their one of a kind $15K campaign contribution limits. National Grid employees have paid in excess of $250K to Beacon Hill pols as well.

      Anyway, the union(s) doesn’t get that shareholder and insiders are all that matters now. The very same politicians that claim they are pro-union tend to sell them out (i.e. NAFTA, ACA) like Senator Ed Markey who voted for both. If it weren’t for the abomination of public unions, there would be almost no unions at all left. They’re competing with slave labor overseas, and outsourcing domestically who don’t hit balance sheets.

      The greatest transfer of wealth in history will continue and unions (private), thinking they were once immune and special, are now finding out they’re just like the rest of us. Eat cake!