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National Grid lockout ends with new 6-year contract

8 January, 2019Some 1,250 workers at National Grid in Massachusetts, USA, will be returning to work under a new 6-year contract, ending a lockout lasting more than six months. 

Members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the United Steelworkers (USW), voted to accept a fresh deal with the British-based utility company in a vote on 7 January. 

A joint statement from John Buonopane, president of USW Local 12012, and Joe Kirylo, president of USW Local 12003 said: 

"Today our members voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new, six-year agreement with National Grid. This contract provides a significant wage increase and a number of other crucial protections for workers. Just as important, the agreement safeguards the future workforce and includes a number of provisions that will enhance the safety of our communities - including the creation of dozens of public-safety related jobs. 

“More specifically, the agreement features new mark out, inspector positions and instrumentation and regulation jobs - all of which are vital to public safety. The agreement also includes significant sick time, compensation, and retiree health and life insurance protections for newly hired employees.”

The gas workers had their salaries stopped and their healthcare cut after they were locked out on 25 June 2018 when their existing contract expired. 

The experienced workers, who are responsible for protecting and maintaining essential infrastructure in the state of Massachusetts, refused to accept an agreement with inferior terms from the company. 

Their steadfastness garnered considerable support during the long lockout from other unions and state politicians, as well as international solidarity from many unions including Unite in the UK and Ireland, and IndustriALL Global Union. Around 70 affiliated national unions from 50 countries expressed solidarity for USW Locals 12003 and 12012 at IndustriALL’s energy conference in St Petersburg in July 2018. 

IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, said: 

“The 1,250 members who were locked out showed remarkable resilience and their determination to fight for better working conditions has paid off. We send our congratulations to USW in securing this significant victory, which is a true demonstration of the power of a union.”