Union Workers Lose Health Coverage as Con Ed Lockout Continues

Talks broke down Sunday after the workers' contract expired at midnight

By Andrew Siff
|  Thursday, Jul 5, 2012  |  Updated 10:44 AM EDT
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On the fourth day of the labor dispute affecting 8,000 Consolidated Edison workers, union members on the picket line learned their health benefits are no longer active. Andrew Siff reports.

On the fourth day of the labor dispute affecting 8,000 Consolidated Edison workers, union members on the picket line learned their health benefits are no longer active. Andrew Siff reports.

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On the fourth day of the labor dispute affecting 8,000 Consolidated Edison workers, union members on the picket line learned their health benefits are no longer active.

"I have little kids who need medical attention, and now I gotta worry about them getting sick until this is resolved," said Craig Murdock, a union member.

Thousands of unionized workers have been locked out since negotiations broke down early Sunday. The company and the union are scheduled to meet Thursday.

On Wednesday, the company confirmed it canceled medical coverage, but said COBRA is available to locked-out workers who want to sign up.

Meter reader Nicole Stone said that insurance costs too much money.  

"Who has $500 and change to pay for COBRA? You have to pay that upfront before you get any coverage," Stone said.

Union members said they were already upset that Con Edison replaced them with managers over the weekend. A handful of those supervisors have been injured since taking over, including one manager Wednesday who burned his face while in a manhole on the Upper West Side.

While negotiations resume Thursday, some worry the lockout could become an extended work stoppage.

"They're talking tomorrow, they're gonna meet for the first time. And we found out today our benefits are canceled. Does that sound like they are bargaining in good faith?" Bob Vuono, a member of the union's executive board, said Wednesday.

Con Ed said it offered to extend the contract to union members two weeks, which would have continued health coverage through July, but the union leadership refused.

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