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National Grid announced late Wednesday night that it had reached a tentative agreement with unions, signaling an approaching end to a 30-week lockout.
The tentative deal, reached after three days of intense negotiations, covers approximately 1,250 employees who work in gas operations across eastern Massachusetts.
The two unions will present the terms of the agreement to their members for ratification by Monday. National Grid will not share details of the agreement until members of both United Steelworkers Locals 12012-04 and 12003 have had an opportunity to vote.
National Grid, which serves 700,000 gas customers in 85 communities in eastern Massachusetts, locked out approximately 1,250 of its gas workers on June 25 over disagreements on health insurance payments, pensions and other contract terms.
"Though this has been a lengthy and difficult process, we have emerged with a tentative agreement that provides important protections for our members and the Commonwealth's future natural gas workforce," John Buonopane, president of USW Local 12012, and Joe Kirlyo, president of USW Local 12003, said in a joint statement. "This agreement also includes a number of provisions that will enhance the safety of our communities, including the creation of dozens of new jobs focused on public safety."
National Grid has not commented on the tentative deal.
After an overpressurization incident in Woburn in October, the state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) ordered National Grid to impose a moratorium on all gas pipeline work, except for emergency and compliance activities. After a review of the utility's safety practices, on Dec. 19 the DPU lifted the moratorium and ordered National Grid to implement comprehensive new safety protocols, including the approval of a certified professional engineer in advance of any gas pipeline work, and daily to reports to the DPU on the number of inspectors present at gas pipeline work locations.
If National Grid fails to follow these standards, it will face fines of up to $200,000 per violation and $2,000,000 for each continuing violation.
This segment aired on January 3, 2019.
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