Gas workers ratify contract, ending months-long lockout

BOSTON (AP/WHDH) — Natural gas workers for National Grid have ratified a new contract with the utility, ending a six-month lockout.

The company and the leaders of two unions representing more than 1,200 workers in Massachusetts announced Monday that a tentative agreement reached last week had been approved.

“This contract provides a significant wage increase and a number of other crucial protections for workers,” USW Local 12012 President John Buonopane said in a statement. “Just as important, the agreement safeguards the future workforce and includes a number of provisions that will enhance the safety of our communities — including the creation of dozens of public-safety related jobs.”

The employees, who have been locked out since late June, are expected to fully return to their jobs on the week of Jan. 20.

National Grid says the contract includes compromise language on several of the major sticking points in the dispute, including pensions and health care. The company will eliminate pensions for newly-hired workers, but offer increases in pensions and wages to current employees.

The union says the deal also includes the creation of several new jobs that will enhance public safety.

“More specifically, the agreement features new mark out, inspector positions and instrumentation and regulation jobs – all of which are vital to public safety. The agreement also includes significant sick time, compensation, and retiree health and life insurance protections for newly hired employees,” Buonopane said.

The Department of Public Utilities ordered a halt on nonemergency natural gas work performed by National Grid in October after a pressurization mishap that interrupted service to hundreds of homes in Woburn.

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