Locked Out National Grid Workers Heading Back to Work This Month

After a six-month lockout, National Grid workers will be back on the job the week of Jan. 20, the company said. (WHAV News file photograph)

National Grid gas workers who have been locked out since June are set to be back on the job later this month after their unions on Monday ratified a new agreement, the State House News Service reports.

Heads of United Steelworkers locals 12003 and 12012-04 last week applauded the tentative agreement and on Monday announced their union members had voted to ratify a new, six-year agreement replacing the contract that expired on June 24, 2018.

According to National Grid, the employees will return to work the week of Jan. 20.

With the gas workers at risk of exhausting their unemployment benefits by mid-January as contract negotiations continued, Gov. Charlie Baker on Dec. 31 signed a new law calling for benefits for locked-out workers to be extended for 26 weeks or until a lockout has ended. Two days later, on Jan. 2, National Grid and the unions announced they had reached a tentative agreement, subject to ratification Monday.

The new contract, according to the company, includes pension increases for current employees, wage increases and “improvements from the company’s original offer to new hire benefits, such as retiree medical, sick leave, and life insurance.” It defers full implementation of health insurance cost-sharing, “in-sources” work to union employees, and creates additional jobs dedicated to contractor and job oversight.

“While it was important for us to ensure comparable benefits across our employee base, we also wanted to ensure that all our union employees are fairly compensated with excellent benefits,” Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, said.

Depending on weather and permitting, National Grid said it “should have the capacity to resume non-emergency work — including some new services — in early February,” with gas service work prioritized based on greatest need.