Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today sent a letter to Public Service Commission chairman Garry Brown, urging the Commission to bring together representatives from Con Edison and the utilities' labor union to end the lock out.
The letter is in response to a memorandum from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to the Governor's office regarding the dispute between Con Ed and labor unions. Click here to read the memorandum from PSC to the Governor's office.
The letter from the Governor is below:
Dear Chairman Brown:
I am in receipt of your memorandum outlining your view of the legal authority of the Public Service Commission to respond to work stoppages or lockouts involving regulated utilities.
I understand that the Public Service Commission's view is that its authority to intervene directly in what is primarily a labor dispute is prevented by federal labor law. I understand further from your memorandum that the Commission has not previously inserted itself into a labor dispute. The Commission's position is that it can only respond when "a severe event compromising safety or disrupting the provision of reliable service" occurs.
I respectfully suggest an alternative perspective. My administration has focused on fundamentally changing the way state government operates in order to position the government to proactively address problems facing New Yorkers and, when possible, prevent them happening in the first place. When we can take steps to avert disaster before it strikes, it is a dereliction of our public duty not to act. In the case of the current Con Ed lockout, it would be a failure to serve the public to respond only after a blackout or serious safety incident that occurs due to the labor dispute. I believe there is a real possibility of a safety or reliability issue if this situation continues. This is especially true as our region faces an ongoing heat wave which places significant stress on the power grid and requires all parties to devote the highest level of attention to the energy system.
This lockout has gone on long enough. Elected state and city officials are rightfully concerned. I urge you to bring both parties together to strongly encourage an expeditious resolution, and to emphasize that both Con Ed and the union will be held accountable by the people of the state if their failure to settle the dispute contributes to service disruptions or impacts safety.
GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO