Con Ed, union set to resume talks Monday

NEWS12 WESTCHESTER: The Con Ed lockout is now entering its third week. (July 16, 2012)

Talks are slated to resume at noon Monday between Consolidated Edison and leaders representing more than 8,000 unionized utility workers who have been locked out of their jobs for more than two weeks, union officials said Sunday.

On Sunday, a spokesman for the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 confirmed that benefits had been restored to workers but said it has "nothing to do" with negotiations -- which are heading into a third week -- between the company and the union over wages and retirement benefits.

"We believe that was taken away illegally, and they reinstated it to follow the law," spokesman John Melia said.

A Con Edison spokesman couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

Talks broke off a few minutes after 6 p.m. Friday night.

On Friday, union leaders acknowledged Con Edison provided documents detailing company proposals on compensation and health care benefits, but the leaders stopped short of saying they believe there has been any real progress in the negotiations.

A rally scheduled for Sunday was canceled, Melia said, but the New York chapter of the AFL-CIO is planning a march on behalf on Con Edison workers Tuesday, from the company's headquarters to Union Square, where a protest rally will take place.

Con Edison provides electricity to 3.2 million people, including some 350,000 customers in Westchester County. Despite several heat waves, and the accompanying strain on the power grid, the company has avoided major outages in the past two weeks without the more than 8,000 unionized workers, who were locked out without a contract June 30.

About 5,000 Con Edison managers have stepped in to handle day-to-day operations and repairs, supplemented by nonunion contractors from other areas.

The lockout does not impact Con Edison subsidiary Orange & Rockland Utilities. NYSEG and Central Hudson also serve customers in Westchester County.

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