‘Don’t be cheap’: Union workers rally Con Edison to not outsource to contractors

Fuming union members from Communications Workers of America Local (CWA) 1101 rallied outside Con Edison headquarters near Union Square Wednesday as the energy giant is allegedly set to drop a union contract in favor of cheaper labor.

CWA is alleging that Con Edison is about to shut down union jobs in an effort to save money. This, Local 1101 argued, will result in dangers to workers and communities.

“USIC workers perform a vital service to survey and inspect underground electric wiring and gas mains for ConEd. These unionized workers protect our street safety and in turn, unions protect them. New York is a union town and will not compromise for non-union utility locators,” Comptroller Brad Lander said. 

Comptroller Brad Lander. Photo by Dean Moses
CWA 1101 workers implored Con Edison to choose quality union work over cheap labor. Photo by Dean Moses

NYC Comptroller Lander, Senator Jessica Ramos, Senator Brad Hoylman, and more joined dozens of CWA members at 4 Irving Place imploring ConEdison not to skimp on quality by dropping its unionized utility workers at the United States Infrastructure Corporation (USIC)—which is responsible for identifying electric and gas lines, water mains and internet infrastructure prior to construction sites digging into New York City or Long Island streets. CWA firmly reminded Con Edison that the level of expertise and experience from union workers is needed when dealing with underground systems that could potentially cause electrical outages or gas main explosions if not managed correctly, putting workers and residents at risk. 

“I’ll tell you right now as a lifelong customer of ConEd, I am disgusted with what they are trying to do,” Local 1101 President Keith Purce said. “There could be a gas explosion, or an electrical outage, hospitals going out of power just because they wanted to hire cheaper labor.”

State Senator Jessica Ramos, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee. Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

Con Edison employees, piled out of the building to watch the ruckus from across the street. Labor members attempted to coax them over to their side, but the workers simply looked on bemused at the anger directed toward their employer.

“Just as ConEd is asking New Yorkers to accept higher utility rates, they are seeking to cut an important union workforce out of their operations. The work CWA Local 1101 members do for ConEd is critical and potentially dangerous work. It protects the rest of us from gas main explosions and electricity outages. If ConEd is worried about their bottom line, their best bet is to pay for high standard, high-quality union work, rather than paying the expensive costs of shortcuts down the road,” State Senator Jessica Ramos, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee said.

In response to this rally, a representative for Con Edison told amNewYork Metro that they have not yet come to terms on a final decision.

“We are considering a number of options, including continuing to work with USIC,” Con Edison said.

CWA 1101 reminded Con Edison that “Union workers do quality work.” Photo by Dean Moses