Article

May 2013

Profiles of significant collective bargaining disputes of 2012

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Con Ed closed walk-in centers, suspended meter readings, and limited work on major construction projects in New York City after contract talks between the utility and Local 1-2 workers broke down in the middle of a dangerous heat wave that gripped the New York City region in early July 2012.26Con Ed Senior Vice President John Miksad said that the company locked out the 8,000 utility workers “because the union would not agree to provide three days’ notice before going on strike.”27

On July 25, 2012, the union asked state regulators to order Con Ed to end the lockout, charging that the utility was violating its legal obligations to provide “quality, reliability and safety” of service during the work stoppage.28 A union petition asked the New York State Public Service Commission to consider reports that managers and replacement workers were not following safety procedures and were “potentially endangering the public.”29

Con Ed was demanding “substantial concessions in health care and pensions from the union.”30 According to a news source, Con Ed “wanted badly to renegotiate” the collective bargaining agreement with the utility workers in order “to eliminate defined-benefit pensions and increase union members’ healthcare contributions”.31

On July 26, 2012, the lockout ended with Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York State, brokering a deal. The governor expressed his concern that a severe weather event on the horizon with potentially dangerous consequences caused by high winds and heavy rainfall prompted him to call on both Con Ed and the utility workers union to work through their differences and end the lockout.32 No details of the settlement were made publicly available.

Table 1 presents some information on the three largest work stoppages that began in 2012.

Table 1. Largest work stoppages involving 1,000 or more employees that began in 2012
Organizations involved and locationBeginning dateEnding dateNumber of lost workdays(1)Number of workers(2)Number of days idle(3)
City of Chicago Public School District 299, Chicago, IL; Chicago Teachers Union (local government)Sept. 10, 2012Sept. 18, 2012726,500185,500
Lockheed Martin Corporation, Fort Worth,TX, Edwards Air Force Base, CA, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD; International Association of Machinists, Local 776 (private industry)Apr. 23, 2012Jun. 28, 2012483,600172,800
Consolidated Edison, New York City and Westchester County, NY; Utility Workers of America Local 1-2 (private industry)Jul. 01, 2012Jul. 26, 2012188,000144,000

Notes:

(1) The cumulative length of the work stoppage, as measured in weekdays, Monday through Friday, excluding weekends and federal holidays.
(2) The Bureau of Labor Statistics rounds figures to the nearest hundred. Companies and unions may have rounded the figures before providing them to the Bureau.
(3) The number of days idle, as measured by multiplying the cumulative number of lost workdays by the number of workers involved in the work stoppage.


Notes

26 Verena Dobnick, “Utility and union fail to reach deal as NYC swelters,” The Washington Post, July 2, 2012, p. A7.

27 Bloomberg Businessweek News, “NY lawmakers hear testimony on Con Ed lockout,” July 25, 2012, http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-07–25/ny-lawmakers-hear-testimony-on-con-ed-lockout.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 WSWS Reporting Team, “Con Edison continues lockout of New York utility workers,” World Socialist Web Site, July 9, 2012, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2012/07/cone-j09.html.

31 C. Zawadi Morris, ”Update: Behind the Con Ed strike—a just cause or a need for greed?” Bed–Stuy Patch Beta, July 26, 2012, http://bed-stuy.patch.com/articles/behind-the-con-ed-strike-a-just-cause-or-a-need-for-greed.

32 “Con Ed lockout is over,” The Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443343704577551470050965892.html.

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About the Author

Elizabeth A. Ashack
Ashack.Elizabeth@bls.gov

Elizabeth A. Ashack is an economist in the Division of Compensation Data Analysis and Planning, Office of Compensation and Working Conditions, Bureau of Labor Statistics.