October 27, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
National Grid tries to get away with national fib!
Brooklyn, NY—The energy giant National Grid told TWU Local 101 during contract negotiations, ‘You can keep your healthcare, but we want a five-year wage freeze.’ The company threatened a lockout without the wage freeze, but the local was able to put the wage freeze on ice.
With winds gusting at over 30 mph from the top of the steps at Brooklyn Borough Hall, we interviewed TWU Local 101’s president, Michael Conigliaro, in the accompanying video to find out what his reaction was at the table when the company made its wage freeze proposal.
“They sat there right across the table from us and said it without hesitation that we have to take zero wage increase for five years in order to keep our health plan,” said Conigliaro.
He said his initial reaction was disbelief.
“They pounded us from July 15 all the way to October telling us that this is what we want and this is what we need. There aren’t many things in life we need—we need shelter and a few dollars in our pocket. This from a company that made $24 billion last year.”
The union held a big rally on October 9 when over 1,000 members showed up and apparently forced the company to back off its wage freeze demands, thereby opening the door for both sides to reach a new contract.
The local’s 1,500 members still have to vote yea on the contract, but Conigliaro is confident the majority will.
According to Conigliaro, the contract is a victory considering National Grid’s starting position of a wage freeze.
“The contract calls for a 14.3 compounded wage increase over five years, it lowers out-of-pocket weekly healthcare costs and my members will be getting free dental coverage. My membership will get a plus in their paychecks of $730 per year. This is a big victory for the local and for labor across the country,” said Conigliaro.