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Con Ed Seeks to Resume Talks as Managers Run Operations

Consolidated Edison Inc., the owner of New York City’s largest electric utility, will resume contract talks with its largest union July 5 after 8,000 workers were locked out amid a heat wave.

Federal mediators have arranged for the negotiating session, Allan Drury, a spokesman for New York-based Con Ed, said in a phone interview today. About 5,000 managers began handling daily operations after contract talks with Utility Workers Union of America failed yesterday.

The contract dispute comes as temperatures in New York City are forecast to reach more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) for the next six days, according to Accuweather Inc. The locked-out workers include meter readers and linemen for the company’s 3.2 million customers.

The company called in managers to handle the union workers’ duties after the two sides failed to reach an agreement before the contract expired July 30, according to a statement on Con Ed’s website. The sides disagree about compensation and benefits for a new contract, the company said.

The union refused an offer to extend the contract for two weeks while talks continue, Drury said. The company will continue to respond to emergencies and said non-emergency major construction project work will be limited, Con Ed said in a statement yesterday. Walk-in payment centers will be closed and meter reading suspended.

“Con Edison had the choice to continue bargaining in good faith or to lock out their workers,” Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, said in an e-mailed statement today. “They chose a lock-out.”

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