The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Union, Con Ed to Resume Talks as Workers Picket Headquarters

UNION SQUARE — The union representing thousands of locked out Con Ed workers will resume talks with the utility Thursday as dozens of employees vowed to picket company headquarters around the clock.

In the second day of the high-profile lockout, representatives of the Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America said they will try to revive talks with Con Ed negotiators.

"Con Ed called Local 1-2, and talks will begin again on Thursday," said Anthony Vallone, a business agent for the union.

Michael Clendenin, a Con Ed spokesman, said the two sides will go back to the bargaining table at noon July 5.

Con Ed locked out about 8,500 of its unionized workers early Sunday after its existing labor agreement expired.

More than 100 unionized workers picketed outside of Con Ed's headquarters at 4 Irving Place on Monday. Using orange cones as bullhorns and shouting "Shame on you!" the workers taunted executives as they entered the Union Square building.

"We pay high union dues already," said Maria Keaton, 61, who has worked as a utility worker for 38 years.

Among the sticking points, union workers said, was Con Ed demanding cuts to pension plans.

"We deserve our benefits, we need our benefits and that's what we're fighting for," Keaton said.

Clendenin, however, said economic times have forced most companies to reevaluate pension packages.

"The formula used to calculate penions has changed over the years," he said, stressing that workers would still get receive a pension under Con Ed's proposal. "You are given a pension either way."

Vallone, meanwhile, said the union plans to rotate in new protestors overnight to keep a constant presence at Con Ed's headquarters.

The stalled negotiations come as scorching temperatures are increasing demand for electricity, particularly air conditioning.

Clendenin said Con Ed is up to the task.

"We've been responding to outages as they come," he said Monday morning. "And we're in touch with union leadership and trying to get union leadership back to the table. We're always hopeful that we can work out the differences. At some point, some day, there's going to be an agreement."

"We'll operate like this as long as we have to," he added, referring to the shortage of manpower.

By Monday afternoon, there were outages in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that had affected more than 100 customers, according to Con Ed's outage map.

Meanwhile, Jason Ayala, 35, who has worked for Con Ed for eight years, said he expects the same benefits his father received over his 30 years with the utility.

"This has always been a family company," said Ayala, a representative of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 who lives on the Lower East Side. "We're not asking for much. We're not asking for anything more than we already had before."

Without the benefits, he said, the quality of life for retired workers would plummet.

"We would have to get a second job when we finish with Con Ed," he said.