This is a guest post from New York State AFL-CIO social media coordinator Kevin Eitzmann.
A diverse group of thousands of union members and community supporters marched in the heat from Con Edison’s "ivory tower" at 4 Irving Place to Union Square, New York City. With chants of “We Are One!” and signs bearing such slogans as “Con Ed Can’t Con Me” and “Con Ed Took Away My American Dream,” people were expressing their frustrations and showing solidarity with the locked-out Utility Workers (UWUA).
As Harry Farrell, president of UWUA Local 1-2 told the crowd, “Today we are ALL utility workers!” Seeing the energy and size of the crowd in sweltering heat, it is hard to imagine that Con Edison understood the backlash when it locked out the workers and gave unreasonable contract demands. Representing 2.5 million workers and their families in the state, New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said:
Your fight is OUR fight! We are all in this together.
The list of union leaders pledging their support spanned all sectors, from public, private and building trades. Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, said:
Each and every member of labor stands with you today!
To sign a petition in support of the workers, please click here; and check out our website, www.nysaflcio.org, for the latest details. Visit www.ConEdRipoff.com and sign up for text messages from Local 1-2.
To see more pictures of the rally, click here.
On July 1, during a massive heat wave, Con Edison and its CEO Kevin Burke locked out 8,500 utility workers from Local 1-2. On July 3, Con Edison cut off health care benefits for all workers and their families. It reinstated the benefits on July 15 because of public pressure.
Since then, managers who are doing the dangerous work of the locked-out workers have been seriously injured, and citizens of New York City and Westchester have faced numerous power outages and service disruptions. Despite an investigation by the Public Service Commission and building public pressure, Con Edison so far continues to make unacceptable demands.