Union: Con Ed stalling contract talks

THE BRONX - Contract negotiations between Consolidated Edison and the utility workers union continue in an effort to reach a deal before the midnight deadline.

Workers are sticking to their demands of higher wages, health benefits, pensions and job advancement. Con Ed has been reported to propose at least one deal so far, offering two .5 percent wage increases this year, another .5 percent increase in January and 1 percent pay increase next June.

Donald Weedman has seen nine contracts negotiated in his time at Con Ed, and he says it was never an easy process.

?They?ve all been tough,? he says. ?This isn?t any different than any others. They all go down to the wire, and it?s a battle from beginning to end.?

A spokesperson for the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2, confirms that Con Ed?s chief negotiator is mediating the talks between the utility giant and its employees. He also says that union leaders and Con Ed representatives are willing to carry the talks well into the night, if need be.

According to the spokesperson, union workers have been trying to speak to Con Ed officials, but they have been using administrative tactics to try to delay the process by focusing on such details as who will sit around the negotiations table instead of addressing the issues.

If they do not reach a deal by midnight, workers are ready to walk off the job. A strike would affect more than 9,000 Con Ed workers and millions of customers throughout the Tri-State area.

While the talks continue, Con Ed employees are still working their regular schedules. One worker says that when Con Ed employees went on strike 25 years ago, a three-day blackout followed, and he says such turn of events cannot be ruled out this time.

In the event of a strike, the union representative says they have set up a defense fund to help support workers.

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