UNION SQUARE — Thousands of locked out Con Ed workers continued to protest at the utility's headquarters Thursday as leaders on both sides resumed talks in hopes of ironing out a new labor deal.
The closed-door negotiations lasted more than four hours and were held at an undisclosed location. About 5 p.m., the two groups broke for a brief dinner break.
Anthony Vallone, a business agent with the union, said it was possible that talks could stretch through the weekend.
"If we don't get a contract, we'll be here at least through Monday, 24 hours a day," he said, noting that he hopes negotiations will bring things to a halt before then. "We'll stay here as many days as it takes."
Con Ed locked out about 8,500 of its unionized workers early Sunday after its existing labor agreement expired. The two sides have thus far been unable to reach an agreement.
Protestors from the Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America, estimated at more than 4,000 people by a union representative, have rallied outside of the utility's headquarters for four straight days.
"It's all about company greed and they are hurting middle-class America in the process," said Angel Soto, 48, a Kew Gardens, Queens, resident who has worked for Con Ed for four years. "My God, the company is already worth about $1 billion, and it's the workers that generate those funds. When is enough enough?"
A 4 p.m. march from the utility's headquarters to the home of Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke was sparsely attended, though.
The revived talks and the protests came as news that three managers, replacing union workers, went to the hospital with burn injuries this week.
"The pressure is definitely starting to intensify," said Dennis Yanazos, 41, who has worked at Con Ed for five years. "The city losing power is one thing, but people potentially losing their lives is another."
A Con Ed worker was burned on the right ear and part of his neck in a sub-station fire on Monday. Another worker seriously burned his face at an Upper West Side volt compartment on Wednesday.
Both workers were managers replacing union employees, the utility confirmed.
A spokesman for Con Edison confirmed to DNAinfo.com New York that there was a third accident on the East Side of Manhattan, where a manager was burned on the hand and released from the hospital.
And according to the spokesman, a fourth, non-job-related injury involved a protest in Van Nest in The Bronx in which a protestor allegedly blew an air horn into the ear of a management employee, causing him "great discomfort," the spokesman said.
According to Con Ed, the recent string of injuries has nothing to do with managerial workforce.
"All this is a distraction from our job of providing power reliably," said spokesman Michael Clendenin. "The union workers themselves could be working right now if the union leaders had accepted our offer to extend the contract two weeks."
Meanwhile, Con Ed also said it would reduce voltage Thursday by five percent in a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods and its workers would continue to "work through the heat" to repair equipment throughout the borough.
Customers, however, could still use air conditioners and other appliances, the utility said.