Oops: DeLeo says Grid bill drafted incorrectly
Would penalize all utilities, not just National Grid
HOUSE SPEAKER ROBERT DELEO acknowledged a bill to extend the unemployment benefits of locked-out National Grid workers doesn’t do what he thought it would do.
The bill was approved with no debate during an informal session of the House on December 6. DeLeo issued a statement at the time saying the bill would extend the unemployment benefits of the 1,250 locked-out workers and assess the cost on National Grid.
CommonWealth reported that the bill as written would actually assess the cost on all of the state’s utilities, not just National Grid. But a spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee, which drafted the legislation, insisted only the company locking out its workers would have to pay.
On Monday, DeLeo’s office acknowledged the bill wouldn’t do what he said it would do. In a statement to the State House News Service, a spokeswoman for DeLeo said the intent of the legislation was to assess the cost of the extended benefits on the shareholders of the utility that locked them out. “The Speaker intends to discuss the correction of this drafting error with the Senate President and, if necessary, the House stands ready to make additional changes if the bill is returned,” the statement said.
The union continues to win the battle in the court of public opinion. Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen reported on how the union is doling out money to members who are struggling to make ends meet without a weekly paycheck. Cullen says hundreds of workers are taking nothing from the union so that other members can get what they need.“The selflessness of the workers stands in dramatic contrast to a British-based company that made almost a $5 billion profit last year but still wants to wring concessions from the people who do the work,” Cullen wrote.
Meanwhile, National Grid and the two union locals representing the company’s steelworkers continue to negotiate, but a resolution remains elusive. The company is pressing the union to agree to diminished pension benefits for newly hired workers and some additional health care charges for all workers, but the union is refusing to go along even if the company offers sweeteners in other areas. For either side to give in at this point would mean the last six months of pain have been in vain.