Gov. Cuomo brokers deal between Con Ed, union
Con Ed and its employees' union reached a tentative contract agreement Thursday afternoon, sending thousands of union members back to work for the first time in more than three weeks as New York braced for a possible storm.
The announcement came shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo called both sides to his Manhattan office and brokered a deal to temporarily halt an employee lockout until the nasty weather passed. Both sides shook hands on a new four-year contract a few hours later.
"You don't want a storm hitting New York City without Con Ed being at full force," Cuomo said, "And that's what caused us to have the first conversation."
The National Weather Service declared a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until 11 p.m. Thursday.
"The discussion this morning about the storm changed the tone of the dialogue," he said, adding, that the new contract is "a good deal, I believe, for both sides."
Officials for Con Ed and the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 credited Cuomo with breaking up the dispute over wages, pensions and health care costs, but would not comment on the new contract's details since it had not yet been approved by the union or Con Ed's board.
"The change came this morning when we were called to the governor's office," union president John Farrell said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. "I didn't come here today expecting that we'd walk out with a contract."
In a statement, Con Ed called the new contract "fair and equitable for our employees and customers," adding: "We look forward to our union employees returning to work."
Con Ed had locked out its workforce hours after their contract expired on July 1. The company's 5,000 managers have been filling in for more than 8,000 workers since then.
Cuomo entered the fray for the first time on Wednesday, ordering the state's Public Service Commission to try to help reach a deal.
The union had said it would continue to work without a contract, but refused to sign an agreement with Con Ed that would have made it more difficult for them to go on strike. Con Ed said it needed the guarantee that workers would stay on the job to ensure regular service.