January 7, 2019
CONTACT: Media Relations – 781-907-3980
Leaders of the United Steelworkers Locals 12003 and 12012-04 have notified the company their membership has ratified the tentative agreement that was reached Jan. 2. The 5 ½ -year agreement covers approximately 1,250 members that work in gas operations and other support lines of business across eastern Massachusetts, and replaces the contract that expired June 24, 2018.
The company and unions have negotiated a transition schedule beginning with onboarding sessions this week that lead to a full return to work the week later this month.
“We recognize that our labor dispute has been challenging for our employees, our customers, and our communities,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts. “Now that we have been able to move beyond our past challenges to reach an agreement that works for both sides, we are looking forward to our union employees’ return to work, and resuming normal operations for the benefit of the customers we are mutually motivated to serve.”
The new contract includes pension increases for current employees, wage increases, defers full implementation of health insurance cost-sharing, in-sources more work to union employees, creates additional jobs dedicated to contractor and internal job oversight, and includes improvements from the company’s original offer to new hire benefits, such as retiree medical, sick leave, and life insurance.
“We made the progress we had set out to make on healthcare and transitioning new hires to 401(k) plans,” Reed said. “In return, we agreed on a number of issues that were important to the unions. It is important for us to have comparable benefits across our employee base, and to ensure all our union employees are fairly compensated with excellent benefits.”
Employees will return to work the week of Jan. 20 after an onboarding process that factors in such details and logistics as licensing, system access, and medical testing.
“We’re now focused on assuring that employees can effectively return to work and safely perform their job duties,” said Reed. “It is also important for me to thank the team of management employees and contractors who’ve been maintaining safe and reliable services during this interim period.”
The company will continue to prioritize gas service work based on greatest need. As long as the weather continues to be favorable, and provided the company can get the necessary permits from cities and towns, the company should have the capacity to resume non-emergency work – including some new services – in early February.