Steelworkers call counter-proposal fair, reasonable

Union leaders: It’s in Grid’s best interest to end lockout

THE UNION LOCALS representing 1,250 locked-out steelworkers made a counter-proposal to National Grid on Wednesday but declined to provide any details about the terms of their offer. The two sides are not expected to meet again until late next week.

John Buonopane and Joe Kirylo, the presidents of the two union locals, issued a statement saying their counter-proposal “meets the needs of our workers, tackles the serious safety problems within the company, and addresses the priorities expressed by National Grid. We hope that National Grid exhibits good faith and gives this fair and reasonable proposal serious consideration over the next several days.”

The two union officials called the utility’s lockout a “reckless decision” that has negatively impacted their members, residents, developers, and cities and towns. “It’s in National Grid’s best interest and the best interest of public safety that the company carefully review this proposal and make a serious effort to finally end the lockout,” the statement said.

National Grid issued a statement saying the company was still reviewing the counter-proposal, the union’s first in five months. The company said it requested another meeting for Saturday but union officials said they would not be available until next Thursday.

A legislative committee is scheduled to hold a hearing early the following week, on December 4, on a bill designed to pressure National Grid to settle the labor dispute by forcing the company to provide health insurance to the locked-out workers and by denying the utility access to any rate hikes.

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Bruce Mohl

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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.

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.

National Grid locked its steelworkers out in June after the union refused to accept a contract offer that boosted the current average employee salary from $120,000 a year, including overtime, to $137,000; offered a no-layoff guarantee to all employees with more than five years of service; and provided a 10 percent increase in pension benefits for current employees. The proposal required all employees to pay deductibles and co-insurance on their health coverage while putting new employees on a 401K plan and offering them less sick time and life insurance.