National Grid is jeopardizing the safety of our communities by locking out 1,100 of its most experienced employees who are critical to ensuring safe and quality gas work in Massachusetts.

As indicted in a previous update, we have been notified by the International that pre-arbitration hearing discussions have begun. We have a conference call scheduled for mid-June to determine how the arbitration will take place, either via video conference or in person. We have made Duneland Falls available to accommodate this arbitration considering traditional venues are not fully operational at this time.

This week, Hot Band and Plate prices have increased. Hopefully, these increases will stabilize the market and encourage customers to place orders. Again, this does not mean that we are out of the woods. In some areas of the mill employees are being recalled while other areas such as the Sinter Plant, CHTL and those who have been displaced into the plant wide labor pool are suffering reductions in workforce. As the automotive industry continues to ramp up, there have been COVID-19 cases which caused the assembly plant in Chicago to shut down for several hours, just one day after opening.

First and foremost, there were issues with flooding at the Main Gate this morning resulting in some people being late. The Company has agreed to pay everyone scheduled to start between 5:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. who were late, from their scheduled start times.

Recently, there have been numerous changes in our plant, ultimately stemming from COVID-19. Displacements, layoffs and sickness have been a concern for all. However, with the Governor’s plan for reopening the state underway, we are beginning to see some encouraging developments.

Communications are ongoing regarding the issues with the closure of the Main Gate. However, we have made some progress. We have a commitment from management to extend the Main Gate times. Beginning May 8th the Main Gate will be open from 5:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and closed from 7:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. and on weekends. I realize this may not seem like a big change, but based on gate swipe times, this will allow an additional 600 Employees in and 1,200 Employees out to avoid the bottleneck at the gate during the busiest shift changes.

As the devastation of COVID-19 continues, we continue to take direct hits. Recently, the Company has announced they are going to temporarily idle iron range, Hibbing Taconite for the next couple of months laying off about 650 people, leaving approximately 50 people to work fire watch. We will be closely monitoring the situation at Hibbing. We have been assured we will continue to receive pellets from other sources. This news comes a week after Cleveland-Cliffs announced they are idling Northshore Mining and U.S. Steel is going to idle Keetac.

April 28th 1971, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act promising every worker the right to a safe job. Every year on this date we observe Worker’s Memorial Day. This day is to remember those who have died, been injured or made ill by their work.  It is also a day to reinvigorate all of us in our never-ending campaign to return safely home to the ones who love us the most.

As the uncertainty of this unprecedented pandemic continues, we are facing new and challenging situations within our plant. The Company has informed us they are implementing a plantwide Labor Grade 1 pool per their LMP of regressed Employees (a little over 200) from identified departments who, by seniority, could not retain a position in their home department as a result of reduced operations. These Employees were canvassed by management and will be used to fill temporary vacancies throughout the Plant as needed and dis-place non-core contractors as possible by seniority within the pool.

As you are aware, we did not reach an agreement for a LMP.  The Company has implemented their plan which includes a VLO.  The Union did NOT agree to the rules placed within this voluntary layoff and we disagree with the Company’s interpretation of our Sub-pay language outlined in our BLA. We will be challenging it through the grievance procedure.