City Council Speaker Christine Quinn slammed Con Ed Wednesday for keeping 8,000 workers out of their jobs for more than a week as the energy company and its employees' union negotiates a new contract.
"Let me be clear, your actions do not have my support," Quinn wrote in a letter to Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke Wednesday. "The public's safety, which is the paramount issue, remains at risk."
"I strongly urge you to continue negotiations withoutout the lockout," she added.
Con Ed locked its workers out on July 1, just hours after the contract with Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 had expired. Both sides, which had been in talks since April, are far apart on several issues, including wages, health care and pensions.
Union spokesman John Melia called Quinn's letter "welcome news."
Con Ed spokesman Allan Drury said Quinn should be assured that city residents are not at risk.
"Our employees are not out of work now because of any disagreement over wages, pensions or any other benefit," Drury said. "They are out of work because the union leadership refused to continue working under the old contract or agree to provide us with adequate notice of a strike."
But Melia accused Con Ed of "lying" about their offer to let employees continue working, saying that the company's offer was contingent on a clause that would prohibit them from striking.
"What they wanted us to do was to sign away our only right - which is the right to strike," Melia said.
Drury said the company's most recent offer to the union called for three days' notice before a strike.