National Grid, union fail to reach agreement

As self-imposed deadline passes, utility makes revised offer

NATIONAL GRID and the two union locals representing 1,250 locked-out steelworkers failed to negotiate a new contract by their self-imposed deadline of Friday, but the two sides have agreed to keep meeting.

The utility and the unions issued a joint statement at 12:30 a.m. Saturday that provided little information on why they had failed to reach an agreement.

“The company presented the unions with a revised offer at 11:30 p.m. Friday. Given the lateness of the hour, the parties broke for the evening and have agreed to schedule meetings for the unions to respond formally to the company’s offer,” the joint statement said.

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Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

It was unclear whether the joint statement was a hopeful sign that a new contract was imminent or whether the two sides were at an impasse. A week ago the utility said it would refrain from making a new contract offer to focus on reaching an overall agreement. The two sides set Friday as a deadline to reach an agreement. That effort was unsuccessful, so the company went ahead and made a new contract offer.

National Grid locked out the 1,250 steelworkers in June, depriving them of paychecks and health insurance. The company has sought two major changes – putting new employees on 401K plans rather than pensions and requiring all workers to pay deductibles and co-insurance as part of their health insurance coverage. National Grid says the current average salary of the steelworkers is $120,000 a year.

The unemployment benefits of the National Grid workers are scheduled to run out in mid-January.  Lawmakers last week passed and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker legislation to extend the benefits another 26 weeks or to whenever the lockout ends, whichever comes sooner. Baker had indicated he would sign the legislation but on Monday a spokesman said the governor would review the legislation carefully while monitoring the progress of the labor negotiations.