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Workers Uniting celebrates victory of Massachusetts gas workers in National Grid dispute

INTERNATIONAL trade union Workers Uniting has congratulated National Grid workers in the US who emerged from a seven-month lockout to win better pay and benefits.

The natural gas workers, members of United Steelworkers (USW) union, based in Massachusetts secured pay rises, the maintenance of affordable benefits and “the creation of dozens of public safety-related jobs.”

The bitter dispute saw the employer remove the health insurance of the workers and their families, which in the US is often linked to employment as there is no National Health Service.

“This agreement is a testament to the commitment these hard-working union members have to their community and to each other,” said USW international president Leo W Gerard.

“They demonstrated their strength and solidarity every day, and they should be proud of what they’ve achieved with this contract.”

Workers Uniting brings together the United Steelworkers with Britain’s Unite the Union, which organised solidarity action including helping USW members attend National Grid’s AGM in Birmingham (Britain). 

Unite leader Len McCluskey noted that members had been “horrified” that a British company had taken advantage of US law to “cut off healthcare for workers’ families and children because of a labour dispute.”

He said it showed the need to defend the NHS against attempts to expose it to privatisation under the terms of “free trade” agreements.

National Grid plc is a British-registered energy firm, which took over transmission responsibilities from the Central Electricity Generating Board when the Conservatives privatised electricity and it became a London Stock Exchange listed company in 1995.

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