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United Steelworkers-Represented National Grid Gas Workers In Boston Protest Ahead Of Contract Expiration/Union Representing 800 Employees Claim Utility Company’s Practice Of Hiring Outside Contractors Puts Public At Risk

Published Friday, February 26, 2016

(BOSTON) – With a critical contract expiration deadline just days away, Members of a local gas Union representing 800 National Grid Employees protested at the State House earlier this week, claiming the utility company’s practice of hiring outside contractors puts the public at risk.

“We feel like it is ‘unacceptable’ and it’s ‘dangerous not to have this done in house’ by people that have the institutional knowledge to do it,” said Joe Kirylo, who serves as President of Boston Gas Local 12003 United Steelworkers (USW), who blamed a gas main break incident in Lexington where high pressure gas was blowing into the air on outside contractors.  “If they outsource it now, the ‘institutional knowledge is going to be lost’ in regards to marking out these mains.  It’s ‘extremely important’ to keep the public safe and that’s one of the main reasons we’re out here (protesting).”

The USW, which held protests earlier this month in Lexington, also raised issues over new Wage and Health Benefits, saying in a statement that National Grid “seeks to push significant Health Care, Benefits, Wage and Overtime Cuts onto its Gas Workers.”  USW Local President Kirylo also said the utility is seeking to cut starting hourly wages for new Call Center Employees to $14.10, which would be down from 15.50.  The current contract expires on February 28th.

Asked for comment, National Grid spokeswoman Mary Leah-Assad reiterated the company’s position from prior statements, which noted the company’s commitment to reaching a “fair and equitable contract for all parties” and confidence that its “fully qualified” contractors adhere to safety standards.

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