WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – A deal between union workers and Consolidated Edison was brokered Thursday afternoon by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hours before a severe thunderstorm was expected to hit Westchester and New York City.
"It is a tentative labor agreement. It's over, the lockout is over," said John Melia, spokesperson for Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America.
All the approximately 8,000 workers locked out since July 1 were to return to work before the expected severe storms. The National Weather Service issued a severe weather outlook just before noon Thursday, saying the strongest winds and rain were expected in southern New York.
"One or two tornadoes will be possible this afternoon and evening across parts of southern New York," the weather service said.
Cuomo said, "At my request and in the interest of the safety of New Yorkers, Con Ed and Local 1-2 have agreed that the necessary personnel will immediately return to work to prepare for the possibility of an approaching storm and will remain on the job for the duration of any emergency and any following repairs."
He said Con Edison and Local 1-2 will continue negotiating to reach a full contract agreement.
Con Edison issued a statement at 4 p.m. Thursday saying, "We would like to thank Governor Cuomo for his support and guidance in helping Con Edison and the leadership of UWUA Local 1-2 reach a tentative agreement that is fair and equitable for our employees and customers. We look forward to our union employees returning to work. We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in the talks to reach this agreement."
Cuomo urged New Yorkers to prepare for the severe storms before they hit, and activated the state Emergency Operations Center at 1 p.m. Thursday.