Though the clock ticked past last night's midnight deadline for contract negotiations between Con Ed and the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, the two sides kept working and have worked out a tentative deal to avert a strike of about 9,000 members.
Union spokesman Joe Flaherty, who had called Con Ed's previous offer insulting and "asinine," said though the talks were "extremely contentious," they came to an agreement about wage, safety, health care and benefits issues. Specifically, the talks were able to continue more easily when Con Ed agreed not to change the traditional-style pensions into 401(K) plans. Flaherty said, "It's a pension provision they know we can't and won't agree to. It's an item we can't live with and they know it."
The last time Con Ed workers went on strike was in 1983, during which a water main break caused "an electrical fire in a substation" which then caused a blackout in a 20-block area in Manhattan. As threats were made to strike this time around, Con Ed kept saying its management was ready to go to work on the lines.