Saturday, July 21, 2012

Unions Rebut Con Ed Assurances to PSC that Lockout of 8,000 Employees Has Not Eroded Services

In a proceeding at the Public Service Commission considering a petition to investigate service deterioration during Con Edison's lockout of union members, the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, Local 1-2, Utility Workers Union of America, New York Central Labor Council and New York State AFL-CIO    filed a Reply on July 20, 2012 to representations to the PSC made by Con Edison in its Response to the effect that “customers are receiving the same level and quality of service today as they were receiving before the lockout.”
The unions point out that Con Edison's calming reassurances "are not accompanied by the affidavit of any Company or contract employee, let alone one with sufficient knowledge to verify Con Ed’s extensive factual allegations." The union submits that this assertion of unchanged service "is not credible" because later in the same document, Con Edison itself acknowledges significant services have been cut.

In addition,to service shortcomings conceded by Con Edison later on in its papers, the unions' Reply lists numerous additional gaps in operation and maintenance of the gas and electric service systems that may be compromising safety and reliability of service to customers, and the reduction in services available to customers or applicants seeking to obtain or continue service at customer service centers.

The unions emphasize that
the magnitude of the issues at stake — which include the safety and reliability of service to millions of customers — and the rapid and emergent way in which these issues arose merits special consideration to ensure that they are addressed ... and are thereafter evaluated in a Commission-conducted investigation. * * * *There should be no question as to the significance of the matters at issue in this proceeding. Determining whether ConEd is providing safe and adequate service to its customers in these unprecedented circumstances is central to this Commission’s statutory obligations.
Citing risks to customers and the public when utility service is off, PULP moved to intervene in the case, urging the PSC to order reopening and immediate restoration of full walk-in service at Con Edison offices where vulnerable people in crisis situations often apply for service or seek its restoration after shutoffs.  See PULP Replies to Con Edison Defense of Reducing its Walk-in Customer Services During Lockout of Unionized Employees.

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