A Con Ed manager covering for one of the 8,500 workers who've been locked out by the utility burned his head in a substation fire in Bensonhurst Monday. A Con Ed spokesman downplayed the injuries, telling the Daily News that the manager was released from the hospital and only "slightly" hurt. "Look, this is dangerous work," says spokesman Michael Clendenin. "That’s why we’ve got experienced managers. They know what to do." Union officials, unsurprisingly, pounced on the incident as proof the managers can't handle the complicated and dangerous jobs normally taken care of by the rank-and-file. "They’re going to kill somebody," vowed spokesman union spokesman John Melia.
Representatives of both sides are meeting today with federal mediators, while a laundry list of politicians urge them to come to terms. "As temperatures rise and the threat of power outages grows, I urge Con-Ed to end the lockout it has imposed and for all parties to resume good faith negotiations," says Manhattan Borough President and presumptive mayoral candidate Scott Stringer. "Con-Ed employees deserve respect and a fair contract. Bill de Blasio, NYC Public Advocate and another presumptive mayoral candidate, says, “Con Ed isn’t helping anyone by locking out 8,500 workers—not the company, not its employees and certainly not the millions of New Yorkers caught in this heat wave."
5,000 managers and retired supervisors are attempting to fill in for the locked out workers, who have been off the job since early Sunday morning, when contract negotiations broke down over medical cuts, pay freezes and Con Ed's intention to convert pensions to 401(k). Hundreds of locked-out union members have rallied outside the utility’s Manhattan headquarters on Irving Place, cursing the managers showing up for work and handing out flyers spotlighting Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke’s $11 million salary. "We’re fighting for our lives," one worker told the News, noting Con Ed's 10% rate increase. "We’re not asking for anything more than we already have."