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Locked-Out Workers Seek to Help After Massachusetts Gas Explosion

September 21, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

LAWRENCE, Mass.—Locked-out gas workers’ offer to help after a series of explosions Sept. 12 killed one person, injured at least 25, and damaged over 80 homes has gone unheeded. The presidents of the two unions locked out by the National Grid utility since June, United Steelworkers Locals 12003 and 12012, said in a statement Sept. 13 that their 1,200 “veteran natural-gas workers are ready now to offer our experience and technical expertise during this crisis and to help safely restore service to the region.” The explosions, in Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover, happened in gas pipes run by the Columbia Gas utility, but National Grid, which provides electricity in the three cities, sent 140 gas workers from unions in Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island who aren’t locked out. The locked-out workers “want to help,” the Steelworkers said in a Facebook post Sept. 15, but “National Grid won’t let them work.” “We need people that are trained,” locked-out worker Dan Murphy said in a video the union posted. “It’s a dangerous product.” “Unfortunately, I think this tragedy will really shine a light on how the gas utility companies in Massachusetts are operating,” Local 12012-4 President John Buonopane said. Read more

September 21, 2018

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