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National Grid, Union Workers Meet As Lockout Continues

WOBURN (CBS) - "I want to be here I want to be doing my job I love my job and I want to be doing it," Paul Gangi said.

Paul Gangi has no choice but to watch from the sidelines. Now, the fight between locked out union workers and National Grid, is on his doorstep. "Hits home in Woburn especially being five minutes up the road. I got family who live right here," he said.

On Friday, union members met with National Grid in Boston for the thirteenth time but it's the first time since the lockout started June 25th that they feel like their safety proposals are getting attention.

National Grid Lockout
Locked out union workers protest near replacement National Grid workers in Woburn (WBZ-TV)

"What took place in Woburn with the over pressurization basically really proves that and I think for the first time in the number of weeks that we have been negotiating National Grid is finally starting to open their eyes to safety," Joe Kirylo said.

Kirylo is the President of The Boston Gas Workers Union, District 4, Local 12003, one of several in Friday's meeting.

There is still utility work being done on Lowell Street in Woburn where this all started and that's what some union workers say is so frustrating.

"They've been here three days now doing this one leak, it's scary," Gangi said.

Union workers
Locked out National Grid union workers protest in Boston (WBZ-TV)

"It's not easy when you know you can make a difference in something that's going on out there," said John Buonopane, President of Local 12012. He too, has been without a job for nearly four months.

"It hasn't been easy it's a lot of anxiety a lot of uncertainty obviously my healthcare was cut along with everyone else and I work in the field. I'm not a full-time union rep. Like most of the members I'm out responding to emergencies," he said.

He's worked for National Grid for more than three decades and what he finds most disappointing is that the union members offered to work through negotiations but were locked out anyway.

National Grid lockout
Union workers protest near replacement National Grid workers in Woburn (WBZ-TV)

A spokeswoman for National Grid sent WBZ this statement:

National Grid is proud to have always provided good jobs with competitive wages and benefits to our employees and, with the exception of this current work stoppage, has successfully negotiated scores of contracts with unions over two decades. We also take safety seriously every day. We have been communicating to the two unions for the past 16 weeks that we would like them to meet with us more frequently to discuss safety and all other issues, so we that we may reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

"We are not looking for more. We are looking for the public to be made safe and anybody that comes into work at National Grid gets the same benefits, not less benefits, the same benefits," Kirylo said.

"The lock out will end, there is no question," he added.

Now, it is only a matter of when.

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