Union set to vote over Con Ed contract

By Nathan Duke

The union representing Con Edison's workers will vote on whether to accept a tentative four-year contract with the utility by the end of the month following last week's down-to-the-wire talks after a midnight strike deadline had expired, a union spokesman said.

Workers had been considering walking off the job July 1 if they did not reach an agreement with the utility on issues including wages, health care costs, pensions and safety for workers, said Joe Flaherty, a spokesman for union Local 1-2, which represents Con Ed's workers.

Now the electric workers will vote toward the end of the month on the tentative contract, Flaherty said. The union will contract an independent election firm to hold the vote, he said.

“Members will have the final say — they can accept or reject,” Flaherty said.

The four-year contract would increase wages by 2 percent in 2008 and 3.5 percent each year for the next three years, the union said. All new employees would be covered by the utility's benefits plan, the union said.

Under the contract, all pensioners at least 55 years old who have worked 30 years will receive a 1 percent increase in wages for every subsequent year of work between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2012, the union said.

In a statement, the utility said it thought its contract with its workers was “fair.”

“We're pleased to have reached an agreement for the men and women of Con Edison, who provide such an important service to our customers,” the statement said. “We believe the tentative contract is fair and equitable to our employees, while at the same time holds down costs for our customers.”

Gov. David Paterson had intervened in late June as a potential strike loomed, asking both parties to halt negotiations while they cooled off after little progress was made during talks. Con Ed had said it would be prepared for a walkout and that the utility's management would operate the system.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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