Con Ed workers threaten strike as Big Apple faces big bake

Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:15pm GMT

By Scott DiSavino

June 29 (Reuters) - With a second heat wave poised to strike New York City this weekend, union workers at power company Con Edison may go out on strike which could leave consumers hot and bothered if their air conditioners don't turn on.

Union negotiators and New York power company Consolidated Edison Inc were still far apart on negotiations for a new contract on Friday, said John Melia, a spokesman for the union. He said talks were not going well.

The union membership has authorized its leaders to call a strike at midnight Saturday, when the collection bargaining agreement expires.

If the 8,500 Con Ed workers do walk off, that would leave managers and any crews the company can hire to fix whatever problems arise as 8.2 million New Yorkers crank up their air conditioners to beat the heat.

Still, with the possible strike coming on a weekend, when many businesses are typically closed, demand for power will be lower than a weekday. That would lessen the risk that the utility will have to reduce voltage, commonly called a brown out, as Con Edison was forced to do last week in Brooklyn and Queens when temperatures soared.

Several hundred customers also lost power as heavy usage strained some lines and equipment last week. The coming heat wave was forecast to last until Monday, and the mercury was not expected to hit last week's levels.

And demand could be even lower as New Yorkers take vacations with the Independence Day holiday falling midway through the week.

Still, the union stressed that without its skilled workers, the biggest U.S. city could be facing outages in a heat snap if a deal is not agreed.   Continued...

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