Con Edison and the union representing its employees are scheduled to meet Thursday, potentially restarting stalled talks that have left managers filling in for workers.
The contract talks are at a stalemate while temperatures continue to reach the low 90s in Queens and elsewhere in New York City, causing a high demand for power.
Talks broke down Sunday after the workers’ contract expired at midnight.
Both sides said there are many issues on which they have not reached agreement, including pensions for union workers, wages, pay freezes and healthcare costs.
Con Ed offered workers a two-week extension on the contract, on condition they promise not to suddenly strike during that time. The union refused, and the utility declared a lockout, saying 8,500 workers would be replaced by 5,000 managers to keep services running.
The unionized workers told the company they would be willing to work without a contract to keep the power company running, according to Utility Workers Local 1-2 spokesman John Melia.
“These people screwed us,” Melia said. “They fired 8,000 people.”
But the utility also said that management asked union leadership to allow their employees to return to work immediately with only 72 hours notice of a strike and the union still refused. These offers are still on the table.
Con Ed said that advance notice is important because it allows the company time to plan accordingly.
“Imagine if a crew working on an outage at your home or business suddenly picked up their tools and left. We owe it to you — our customers — to prepare for any work stoppage,” Con Ed said in a prepared statement issued on Monday. “We need to balance the demands of the union leadership with the needs of our customers.”
Still, the union, touting the company’s profitable stock prices, said it wanted to retain the right to strike at any time.
“Con Ed never negotiated in good faith. All we want is a fair contract for the dignity of our work and our fair labor,” Melia said.
The union has warned that, because the demand for power is so high, if there were to be any serious problems, the managers would not be able to handle them.
A Con Ed manager filling in for a locked-out union worker burned his hand Monday doing routine work in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, the company confirmed.
“It’s really dangerous,” Melia said. “Not only that, but it’s also reprehensible and it is irresponsible.”
Con Ed closed walk-in centers, suspended meter readings and limited work on major construction projects in the city after the talks broke down hours after the deadline.
The impasse came as the city endured temperatures that were just below 100 degrees and increased demand for air conditioning among the utility’s 3.2 million customers.
Despite the heat wave, no major outages were reported across the city.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called on Con Ed to end the lockout and on the union to agree to “a reasonable walkout notice provision.”