National Grid’s lockout of Massachusetts gas workers in third month
11 September 2018
National Grid’s lockout of some 1,200 gas workers belonging to United Steelworkers (USW) locals 12012 and 12003 is now in its third month. The workers have suffered through the summer with no pay, health insurance that is either nonexistent, inadequate or exorbitantly expensive, and isolation from other sections of workers, which has been enforced by the USW.
The tactics of the two locals have consisted of legal maneuvering, scattered pickets, and appeals to corporate-controlled politicians. The only significant protests so far have been a July 18 rally in Boston, which was joined by other union workers and had about 1,000 attendees, and the locked-out workers’ presence at the Boston Labor Day rally.
On Labor Day in Boston, John Buonopane, president of United Steelworkers Local 12012, one of the two locked-out locals, appealed to Massachusetts’ Republican governor, Charlie Baker, to intervene in the lockout, saying, “Gov. Baker hasn’t said a word about National Grid workers being locked out for 11 weeks.” He added this chauvinist plea, “National Grid is a foreign company, based in the United Kingdom. We are Massachusetts workers locked out of our jobs and Gov. Baker hasn’t said (anything) about it. That shouldn’t happen in Massachusetts.”
The contract that expired on June 24 had a no strike/no lockout clause, and the company jumped on the June 24 expiration to implement the lockout. A week later, on July 1, it stopped paying for the workers’ health insurance. Those locked out have had to apply for Medicaid or insurance with premiums as high as $2,500 per month.
National Grid’s demands for the next contract include replacing the defined benefit…