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Mass. Eyes Forcing Lockout Company to Restore Health Insurance

November 28, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

BOSTON, Mass.—Massachusetts House leaders say they plan to hold hearings this month on a bill that would require the National Grid gas company to continue health-insurance coverage for the 1,200 workers it cut off when it locked them out in June. The measure, introduced by Rep. James O’Day (D-Worcester), would also prohibit the state from giving the company public funds for maintenance or approving a rate increase as long as the lockout continues. “Basically, National Grid’s using health care as a weapon against its employees,” Steelworkers Local 12012 President John Buonopane told the Worcester Telegram. “They shouldn’t be allowed to take away [health care] by law.” “It’s cold-hearted; it’s abuse,” said customer-service representative Arlene Jette, 38, whose 9-year-old daughter suffers from a rare lung disease. National Grid spokesperson Christine Milligan said the company would rather have workers pay more for their health care than raise “the rates charged to our customers,” and that Rep. O’Day’s bill unfairly singles it out. “National Grid is ‘being singled out’ because of the poor, really shabby, disgraceful treatment we have been subjected to,” responded Bill Hunter, who is living on unemployment checks after worked for the company for 40 years. Read more

November 28, 2018

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