September 2018
Special Edition of "On the Level"
 
HBRAMA Meets with National Grid on Natural Gas Work Stoppage

National Grid has deployed a workforce of management employees and outside contractors to staff its natural gas operations in Massachusetts after months-long negotiations between the company and United Steelworkers Local 12003 and 12012-04 failed to yield new contracts on June 24. Without contractual “no strike” protections in place, National Grid said it could not accept the risk of the union’s 1,250 employees working, claiming that it jeopardizes the safety of employees, customers, and the public.

Employees who work in other regions of the company’s natural gas and electrical business operations remain largely unaffected by this work stoppage and National Grid will continue to respond to any gas emergencies that arise. However, the stoppage has created a capacity problem for the utility, even as it tries to backfill with a contingency workforce. Consequently, our members are becoming increasingly subject to service delays.

At our request, National Grid sent two representatives to a recent meeting of the HBRAMA Board of Directors. Dan Tripp, Director of Customer Connections, and Matthew Foran, Director of Business Development, gave an update on the status of negotiations with the union. They stated that the company has prioritized its work as a) safety work – we met just four days after the explosions in the Merrimack Valley and b) simple gas installations. They said that, unfortunately, any new main work could not be completed at this time.

They also stated that they understand the frustration of homebuilders, and are trying to keep up with requests as best they are able. They did report that the work stoppage did not affect communities serviced by their Cape Cod and Beverly yards.

The HBRAMA Board of Directors asked the National Grid representatives if the utility has considered obtaining help from out-of-state gas installation contractors, especially as the winter season is approaching. They said they would look into this suggestion. National Grid has been responsive on requests for simple service connections where the gas main is in the street. However, they have not been able to do any work on gas mains or extensions for our members.

It was noted that some cities and towns have taken the side of the union and will not issue any permits other than for emergency work related to safety. As of this date, those communities consist of: Haverhill, Merrimac, Groveland, Stoneham, Winchester, Arlington, Medford, Malden, Everett, Chelsea, Braintree and Burlington. Homebuilders should inquire about such efforts in communities where they are building to ensure they can still obtain necessary permits.

If you are having an issue with National Grid as related to the work stoppage, you may send an email to HBRAMA Executive Officer Joe Landers at jlanders@hbrama.com and we will attempt to find out the status of your project. You must include the address, work order number, and a copy of the work order application.
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