WILMINGTON — Gas-line employees affected by a National Grid lockout have appealed to the Wilmington Board of Selectmen for support.
USW Local 12012 President John Buonopane spoke at the July 9 board meeting to voice the concerns of union gas-line employees. According to Buonopane, National Grid locked out 1,200 employees on June 25.
“It wasn’t a strike, it was a lockout,” said Buonopane, and added that the union had offered twice to extend a collective bargaining agreement, to no avail.
Buonopane went on to say that union employees typically respond to a wide variety of gas-line issues, including potentially dangerous gas leaks, but that since the lockout, National Grid has instead been sending “inexperienced and recently trained” workers on calls. He characterized this as a public safety concern, in addition to the issues it raises pertaining to workers’ rights.
“Basically, what we’re concerned about, is the company continuing to perform new, replacement gas maintenance service work while this lockout’s taking place,” said Buonopane.
The union has sent a letter detailing these concerns to officials in 50 cities and towns in its service area, and asking that municipalities implement a moratorium on National Grid projects while its workers are locked out. According to Buonopane, Lowell, Medford, and Malden have committed to this moratorium.
Board Chairman Kevin Caira said that he had not yet seen the email.
“I would suggest that we take it under advisement at this point in time,” he said.
Selectman Michael McCoy added that he “definitely supported” the intent of the moratorium.
“If there’s anything that we can do… this is all new to me, but if we can help the folks under Chapter 164 section 25….. we, as elected officials, if we can take a look at it, help expedite it, help you folks, I’m sure we’re all going to do that. Absolutely,” said McCoy.