(Brooklyn, N.Y.) –– Workers at Allstate Power Vac – a Con Edison contractor – announced today that they have voted unanimously to authorize a strike, as negotiations drag into their seventh month without progress toward a first contract. These workers are on the front lines of Con Edison’s work across the city, cleaning and vacuuming underground electrical infrastructure so that Con Edison employees can maintain power lines and transformers. A strike would stop many projects.
“It is unacceptable that workers are risking their lives and maintaining this essential infrastructure for near minimum wage salaries,” said Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813, which Allstate Power Vac workers voted to join in November 2015. “Allstate Power Vac and Con Edison are not taking these workers demands for fair pay and respect seriously. A strike is always a last resort, but we are ready to walk out if these workers do not get a fair contact and the respect they deserve.”
Workers also attended Con Edison’s annual shareholder meeting this week, delivered a petition to the Con Edison board of directors, and called on the utility to intercede with Allstate on their behalf. Con Edison workers who do the same work as Allstate Power Vac employees get paid far higher wages and have additional safety protections.
“It says ‘Allstate Power Vac’ on our paychecks, but we know that ConEd would not be able to operate without our work,” said Reginald Riddick, one of the 60 workers at Allstate Power Vac. “The time for patience is over. Allstate Power Vac has committed unfair labor practices and ConEd has turned a blind eye. These companies need to respect the workers on the front lines and give all utility workers a fair wage.”
Allstate Power Vac starts new workers at close to the minimum wage ($12-$13/hour) and the company endangers temp workers by putting them on the job untrained – one suffered a bad electrocution. Employees fear being disciplined if they try to refuse unsafe work.
The union filed three unfair labor practice charges against the company. The charges, which are currently before the National Labor Relations Board, include bargaining in bad faith and demoting a worker for supporting the union.
No date has been set for the potential strike. The unanimous strike authorization vote gives union leadership the power to stop work at a moment’s notice.
Last week Allstate workers showed that they are ready, picketing the contractor’s Brooklyn office with signs reading “Practice Strike.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.