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Announcement :: Labor
NStar Workers on Strike! Join Your Nearest Picket Line!
16 May 2005
ALERT: NSTAR WORKERS ON STRIKE! JOIN YOUR NEAREST PICKET LINE!

2,000 electric and gas workers went out on strike at midnight last night, as the NStar Corporation refused to negotiate a new contract with decent wages, health benefits, and increased safety measures. Workers believe that NStar, one of the the biggest electric and gas company in Eastern Massachusetts (with some disturbing similarities to Enron), is trying to break their union. They have voted overwhelmingly for the strike.

Picket Locations Starting midnight on Sunday night, May 15th

NStar Facilities

Boston Prudential Building 800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199
Southborough 157 Cordaville Road Southborough, MA 01772
Dorchester 1165 Massachusetts Ave. Dorchester, MA 02125
Walpole 740 Main Street Walpole, MA 02081
Hyde Park 843 Hyde Park Ave Hyde Park, MA 02136
Waltham 200 Calvary Street Waltham, MA 02453
Plymouth 273 Summer Street Plymouth, MA 02360
Westwood (The Summit) One NSTAR Way Westwood, MA 02090
Worcester 25 Quinsigamond Ave. Worcester, MA 01608
Somerville 101 Linwood Street Somerville, MA 02143
Yarmouth 484 Willow Street Yarmouth, MA 02575

From Massachusetts Jobs with Justice:

Here are the facts on NSTAR

NSTAR is an energy company that serves many communities in Eastern Massachusetts. According to numerous news and industry reports, Massachusetts NSTAR, in its previous incarnation as Boston Edison, was one of the leaders in the fight to deregulate utilities. The result of NSTAR’s efforts can be seen in a huge increase in corporate profits as well as out of sight salaries and bonuses for NSTAR CEO, Thomas “Ken Lay” May and other top executives.

And where did these profits come from? Us of course! While rates have increased, the maintenance of our electrical system has decreased, resulting in power failures, blown up manhole covers, and electrified grates.

Some examples of EnroNSTAR’s Performance:

¨ Unstable power makes for unsafe streets. In March of this year, a blow out happened near the Cambridge YMCA building, which houses a day care center (Boston Globe 3/12/05). This occurred before the second of two dogs were electrocuted due to manhole covers electrified by stray voltage. There has been at least one other instance of this in Boston, where traffic was backed up for hours in the Back Bay. (Boston Globe 9/26/04)

¨ Where were you when the lights went out? Repeated power outages have raised the ire of numerous Boston area residents and businesses. One business owner complained that the outages where so frequent, she had lost close to $30,000 because she was forced to close her restaurant at busy times (Boston Globe 5/8/05). Other residents report being repeatedly late for work because of power outages. These outages become even more dangerous in the winter, especially for the elderly (Boston Globe 6/20/04).

¨ Issues in cities and towns. In an attempt to squeeze more money out of communities, NSTAR tried to raise the rates the city of Framingham must pay for its light posts. The city had to sue NSTAR to make them charge the original agreed upon price. (Boston Globe 8/19/01).

¨ Turning the lights out on veterans. In a case that makes Scrooge look like Santa Clause, NSTAR threatened to cut the lights out on the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans! Brian McGrory, a columnist for the Boston Globe, reported that the shelter had made payments, but that these payments were insufficient. McGrory quoted an NSTAR representative as saying “Rate payers deserve better than to carry a homeless shelter.” The question we ask NSTAR is: What do our veterans deserve? (Boston Globe 2/4/03)

¨ Murderers in their midst? Thomas May, CEO of NSTAR, hired a reputed mobster and convicted former FBI agent, John Connolly to run security for Boston Edison. When Connolly was indicted on charges in connection to his work with Steven “the Rifleman” Flemmi and “Whitey” Bulger, May continued to pay his buddy his full salary of $120,000 for 15 months. (Boston Globe 2/4/03). Connolly was recently indicted on further charges of conspiracy to commit murder (Boston Globe 5/5/05). What kind of moral example does this set?

What workers at NSTAR are fighting for:

NSTAR workers are negotiating with a company that is looking to break the union so that it can gain even more profits when the company is sold. The workers are fighting to protect public safety, keep their union, and maintain the benefits they have fought for decades to keep.

Equal Marriage Rights: NSTAR was one of the first companies to state that it would not recognize the marriages of same sex couples. NSTAR only wants to recognize domestic partnerships, which denies workers’ families access to pension benefits. The union wants all families to be treated equally.

Safer Staffing: NSTAR has failed to hire enough workers to keep up with the number of workers retiring. This has lead to unsafe staffing levels and not enough new workers coming in. The union wants NSTAR to start hiring and training more people. In addition to wanting to cut sick days and holiday time, NSTAR wants to make it easier to force existing workers to work more overtime! NSTAR also wants the right to change workers’ schedules whenever they want. This would impose major hardships on workers with families and childcare issues!

Safety and health: Working with electricity is dangerous, and as a result, the union has been pushing for consistent health and safety training for workers. NSTAR has been stalling on this issue and claiming that it is too short-staffed to send workers out for training. In addition, NSTAR wants workers to work outside in bad weather, which puts workers and communities at risk.

Retiree Benefits: Retiree benefits have been under attack for several years at NSTAR. NSTAR has attempted to reduce retirees’ health care coverage in the past, and is now demanding an end to their dental coverage as well.

What would a Strike at NSTAR mean?

¨ Striking or locked out workers means less people to repair vital services: What will you do when the power goes out and no one is around to fix it? With workers out on strike or locked out, NSTAR will have a problem maintaining the basic level of service needed to keep this frail system going.

¨ Strikebreakers: The workers that NSTAR would use in the event of a strike or lockout will be strikebreakers brought in from other states, or supervisors who in most cases, have not worked on direct service calls for years. We don’t know what kind of training or experience they will have. This will put us all in danger since one mistake can not only injure or kill the replacement workers, but could also cause fires, explosions, or widespread power outages. This is electricity we are talking about!

¨ EnroNSTAR may be planning to run down the assets of this public service utility and sell it to the highest bidder. Sound a little Enronesque to you? As utilities consolidate into larger corporations, they increase their power over the consumer and we fear that this could cause situations similar to Enron’s rolling blackouts in California.

¨ Watch your step, we mean it! Do not walk barefoot in city streets, you never know which manhole cover, grate, pole, or object will be electrified. You may want to invest in rubber booties for your four-legged friends too!

For information on how you can help, contact Jobs With Justice at 617-524-8778, email us at jwj (at) massjwj.net or visit our website at www.massjwj.net

This work is in the public domain
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