Macy's, Gimbel's went dark during '83 Con Ed strike
The last time Con Ed workers went on strike was 25 years ago, and during the nine-week walkout, a blackout briefly shut down the Garment District.
The 16,500 members of Utility Workers Union Local 1-2 walked off the job on June 18, 1983. At the time, the workers -- plant operators, repairmen, clerks and meter readers -- had an average pay of $12.16 an hour.
The only service disruption during the strike occurred on Aug. 10. Some 12 blocks around Herald Square and the Garment District -- including Macys and Gimbels -- suffered a blackout when a broken water main shorted out power lines and started a fire in a Con Ed substation.
The department stores quickly switched to emergency generators.
It took three days for Con Ed managers to restore power, leaving the city and the garment industry to find temporary showroom space for local businesses.
In the meantime, picketers marched up and down in front of Con Ed plants in New York and Westchester.
The two sides finalized a new contract on Aug. 18, when the employees accepted Con Eds offer of a 14.5 percent raise over three years. The workers also received stock options and improved health, retirement and disability benefits.
Prior to the 1983 strike, Local 1-2 members had walked out for 13 days 1968.
- Matthew Sweeney