As was feared, negotiations broke down between Con Edison and Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union Of America early this morning—but instead of striking, Con Ed dismissed over 8,000 workers, essentially locking them out. The workers were understandably upset: "This is not a labor issue. This is a corporate monopoly," said Union spokesman John Melia. “Con Ed took an irresponsible step and in essence told the people of New York City to drop dead."

So does this mean the breakdown of air conditioned society as we know it? Con Ed assures that's not the case: Con Edison spokesman Michael Clendenin said the system would be run by about 5,000 managers. Lights and air conditioners should continue working for their 3.2 million customers, although any service repairs and upgrades could take awhile.

Clendenin said Con Ed had asked the union for a two-week extension before talks broke down around 1 a.m., but union officials denied that. Melia added the workers told the company they'd be willing to work without a contract until an agreement was reached to keep the power company running: "We did everything to avert this action," he said. "We recognize that New York City is sweltering right now...We recognize we have a responsibility to the people of New York City and Westchester County."

Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s again today, although there doesn't look like there are any thunderstorms on the horizon this evening. For more Con Ed service info and numbers to call in case of emergency, check here.