City councilors support gas workers in fight with 'National Greed'

The Boston City Council voted today to demand that National Grid cut the crap and get the worker it's locked out for several months back to work - and to support a bill in the state Legislature to create a benefit system for locked out workers.

Councilor, and soon to be US Rep. Ayanna Pressley called the company "National Greed."

Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Downtown, Chinatown) called National Grid "a reckless company" and said he grows increasingly worried that the lack of workers with years of experience will lead to a Merrimack Valley-like disaster in Boston.

Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) noted that National Grid is a British company and raised the specter of Revolutionary action. "We kicked them out (once before), maybe we should go over there (to England) and take care of business," he said.

Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George noted the widening effects of the lockout - that small businesses and residents are having trouble getting gas work done.



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There are two sides to every coin

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Part of what National Grid is trying to un-do are their unmanageable healthcare costs and pension costs. Just as the MBTA is straddled with what now look like over-generous payouts to retirees, National Grid is trying to bring their new employees into a more sustainable program going forward. I get the feeling that neither side has really budged on these two issues, so it's not JUST the company being "greedy."


you mean

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maximize profits.

most of that management gibberish ("a more sustainable program going forward") you have up there is just alot of words to say maximize profits. don't be shy about it.


The money we're talking about comes from us

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I have no connection to this matter, other than being a NG customer. If it costs them more to keep the juice flowing, guess who pays for it?

I agree that this lockout has gotten to the point of hurting the economy and thus it's appropriate for the government to get involved. I just get the feeling that the city council and the legislature have a "the union is always right" mentality that is perhaps not a balanced way to get the bargaining process moving.



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If it costs them more to keep the juice flowing, guess who pays for it?

When in reality what people take issue with is more like this:

If it costs them more to maintain their profit margin, guess who pays for it?

No one is trying to tell them they can't make money. However, they're telling their workers they can't make money (from them, if I have to be that pedantic).


Not entirely true, be honest

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Not entirely true, be honest. They are a multinational publicly traded company. So its not like a nonprofit that just covers costs and breaks even. Profits go to stockholders, including usually upper management. The more they cut costs, the better stockholders will do, and if costs and revenue stay the same, well they wont get extra value. Its not like if they cut costs they are going to cut the rates proportionally. Profits from cutting pay/benefits go to the stockholders.



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So let's stop trying to compare the needs of a multi-billion dollar global corporation with those of hardworking individuals and families who currently have no health insurance (thanks to National Greed's lockout), are about to lose unemployment and refuse to bend over allow the greed of this overseas company to be the reason they will have to contribute more for their families' healthcare (an less pay to take home) and allow future generations of workers to be paid less, receive less benefits and allow for even more use of subcontractors that they have already conceded to in past contracts. If National Grid was a smaller, local company, perhaps I would consider your point but this isn't a little business that will suddenly disappear if these workers don't concede. I think most people can see through their deception and lies of making this seem like its all the workers fault.


Having never

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Gas hopefully won't even be used in 30 years how it is today so whatever pensions exists are going to be in jeopardy either way unless the company makes a massive pivot in their clean energy line of business.

A long-term committment

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Committing today to pay a pension after thirty years of work, means that the company will still be paying that pension 60 years from now. It's not unreasonable for them to consider how energy use will change a full generation from now and decide that they can't guarantee that there will be money available 6 decades hence to cover these costs.


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You mean the agreed upon benefit cost has risen, so they want employees to take the burden of the costs. Even though executive pay and profits are not affected....


Big picture

If the issue is unmanageable healthcare costs, why is NGrid not agitating for single payer? Divorcing healthcare from employment would instantly make companies more profitable. A cynic would conclude that corporations prefer to use healthcare as a lever on their employees.


Just because you are brainwashed into giving up healthcare...

This is a publicly traded company. It's not that they can't afford healthcare and a pension, they are worried that the stock price will go down and that they won't be able to pay a dividend.

All publicly traded companies should pay 85% healthcare and vest a pension after 10 years. It crony capitalism to believe that a company that uses the stock market to raise capital can't afford to care properly for its workers. Guess who pays for people that retire without a pension? The taxpayers. Taxpayers will pay for their housing, supplemental food and medical care, while the stockholders whine about low dividends. It isn't any different than when corporations pay adults minimum wage and teach them how to sign up for foods stamps. It is a scam.

Do you know happens to pensions? The retirees spend the money and the economy improves. When stockholders make money, they put in overseas accounts to avoid taxes. Good healthcare means healthy workers that grow the economy. Free high quality education means advancement based on merit not economic access. What is overly generous about retirement for MBTA employees? Do you know how many of them get assaulted at work? Real capitalism might work, but this country has a rigged system that thinks that workers aren't entitled to share the wealth they create.


Pensions are a thing of the past

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Claiming every publicly traded company should pay 85% of their employees healthcare and guarantee a pension is at best naive and more realistically a socialist pipe dream. More realistically all companies should pay a wage commiserate with employees skills and performance. Unions should stop protecting useless incompetent employees and focus on people who are hard working.

A perfect Freudian slip

a wage commiserate with employees skills and performance

Yes, all you willing corporate lackeys can commiserate with each other about how lousy is your lot, and how it's the fault of those who chose to do something about theirs. I also like how you characterize what was the norm 50 years ago as "a socialist pipe dream." Mission Accomplished!

Not realistic

More realistically all companies should pay a wage commiserate with employees skills and performance.

But they don't. No matter how good you are at your job, there's some recent graduate or immigrant who's better, and will work for less. Even if there is not such a person, your employer probably thinks there is, and so keeps eroding your benefits and adding to your workload to try and get more profit out of you. Since you don't have a union, you can't fight it; all you can do is change jobs.

Guess what? When you go back into the job market, you're directly competing with those recent graduates and immigrants. Maybe you'll be lucky and land a better job, but unless you're a superstar at your job, the odds are not good. I lost count of the skillful and hard-working people I watched change jobs, who wound up worse off than they had been. Not to mention those who were laid off when their employer's profits dipped. The skills that make an effective employee are only tangentially related to the skills that make an effective job-seeker.

Corporations are constantly working to reduce their employees' power, and to bias the hiring process in their own favor. For instance, you're not supposed to know how much your co-workers are paid. Employees have been fired for discussing their own pay with others, even though it's protected speech. Ever work as a contractor, for a staffing agency? Their billing rates for your labor are another big secret. I once learned what they were charging for my time, and it was multiples of what I was getting, for their doing a little bookkeeping. I managed to negotiate a much better pay rate, but the worker is almost never equipped with knowledge of the bill rate.

You have the short end of the stick, and you're not even aware of just how short it is. Unions can mitigate the power imbalance. They aren't perfect, but you've thrown out their good in pursuit of an illusive perfect.

My house is COLD

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I don't have a functioning heating system as a direct result of this lockout. Our oil tank started leaking in Feb. and had to be drained. We applied for gas in April and were scheduled to get a line in July. Because the lockout was announced in June, our line never came. And NGRID went radio silent. I've reached out to everyone I can think of. I am allegedly on an "emergency list" but that's the only positive thing I've been told. We're getting by on electric space heaters, a struggling single zone mini-split and an old fireplace. I'm sure NGRID is loving my electric bill right now.


It takes 2 to tango

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"The key items in dispute in the labor negotiations appear to be the company’s desire to move from a defined pension plan to a 401K plan for new hires and a health insurance plan that would require all employees to pay co-insurance and deductibles. Reed said all of the company’s other unions have accepted similar terms and the United Steel Workers have accepted those terms elsewhere around the country."

So the reason the union won't strike a deal is (a) because they won't give up a pension plan for a 401(k), and (b) they don't want to pay deductibles and co-pays.

90 percent of Americans have 401(k) plans, and I thought everyone had to pay co-pays and deductibles. Not sure why these workers are so special.

that's called

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a race to the bottom, pitting workers against workers ("I dont know why these people are so special")

which, not coincidentally, hugely benefits the corporation.

Sounds like ...

Sounds like the old "I have a shitty deal, and since the War on Unions has been so effective, most people have a shitty deal, so these people should not be able to get a better deal" argument. The corporatists have been lowering the bar of what's acceptable compensation bit by bit for almost 40 years. Attitudes like yours just encourage them. You should applaud workers getting a better deal from a hugely profitable corporation. If that became the norm, everyone would benefit. They keep saying a rising tide floats all boats, while they're filling workers' boats with weight they unload from rich people's boats.


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However, how much are the top managers of National Grid paid? They probably can afford to pay their own medical insurance costs without blinking an eye.

Recently I was dinged for letting a savings account dip below several hundred by Bank of America. I looked up the salary of the executives of BofA. $22 million for a year for the head honcho. $22 MILLION!

Nobody needs to be paid that much.

There is parasitical plague on economics of companies paying their top brass obscene salaries.

So when the parasitically paid executives of National Grid are willing to compromise then they have a case. This is not to say that the rank and file should be princes with guarantees that few others have.

I am not feeling a lot of sympathy for rank and file either however. I have a 401(k) and my medical care includes paying my bi-weekly share, co-pays, etc. To demand a life time pension paid by customers today and in the future is asking for more than I enjoy in providing a service to the employees at National Grid.

Yet, if the economic disease of overpaid executives for all businesses then perhaps there would be a lot more cash for the rank and file who do the actual work.

Executive comp

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The top 5 executives at National Grid combined make 11 MM GBP, which is around $14 MM. Certainly a comfortable living but not extravagant.

There are 25,000 National Grid employees in total. If you went full communist and 'redistributed' the $14 MM executive comp across the company, that's $560 per employee. A nice Christmas bonus, but it's not plugging the hole caused by runaway pension and healthcare costs.

fake equivalance

This is a publicly held company that pays stock dividends twice a year. And the top execs are paid in stock

NGG’s annual report set out remuneration of £11.4M ($15M) for the top management team, led by CEO John Pettigrew, who will get a total £3.5M for the 2017-18 period, down from £4.6M the year before.

Much of the decline for the executive pay is the result of the company's Long Term Performance Plan, where ~85% of variable pay is delivered in shares, which have dropped 19% in the past year.

That is why the people negotiating the contract want the workers to take a cut in benefits. It has zero to do with helping the company run well, its about boosting the stock price. The workers are not demanding that they sign a new contract, they just want to work under the old one during negotiations. The lockout is leaving customers in the cold waiting. The exec's will make more money by running the company into the ground while fossil fuels peter out, then training their experienced employees to work in green energy. They don't care about customers, and they don't care about advancing energy supply in Mass. They just care about how high they can boost the stock price before they take their payout and bail on the rest of the stockholders.

And Daan, Bank of America is an good example of this kind of pump and dump business plan. BofA execs made billions on bad mortgages. None of them went to jail despite hiding it from other stockholders. And when the economy tanked, taxpayers had to prop up banks.

runaway pension costs?

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that healthcare and pension costs are rising should not be a big surprise. Putting away the money to pay for them is the sound financial policy. instead NG wants concessions from employees. revenue and profits were up year over year why wasn't some invested back into the employees?