Hundreds of National Grid workers haven't had access to company health insurance for months. And on Tuesday, they packed the State House to share their stories and push for new legislation.
"We're a family of 6, my wife and kids, I'm the sole income provider [and] obviously our pay was stopped, our health insurance was stopped and my kids are feeling the effects of it." said one of the workers. "Christmas is right around the corner and it's not going to be the same this year."
The workers who have been locked out since June made their case that the lockout is impacting their families and workers' unemployment benefits will start to run out next month.
The financial stress has taken a particularly rough toll on technician Brian Harvey and his wife Michelle.
Their two-year-old, Winston, was diagnosed with a cancerous kidney tumor days after the lockout began. Michelle was forced to work more with Brian out of work, at a time her son needed her most.
Of the several bills the workers are pushing for, one new legislation could potentially create a separate benefit program for workers who are locked out during collective bargaining negotiations.
It would essentially be a way to prevent National Grid from using health insurance as bargaining chips during contract negotiations and to end the lockout.
They are also trying to force National Grid to extend health insurance benefits as well as extend unemployment benefits for any worker who is involuntarily unemployed because of a lockout.
Among the workers, there was one common message. They want to work, but corporate greed is getting in the way.
Tuesday marked 164 days since the lockout began.
National Grid released a statement to Boston 25 News in response to the concerns addressed at the State House:
"We look forward to the opportunity to respond to the legislators’ concerns. We do think that the bill as drafted, singles out and attempts to punish one particular Massachusetts company, which is a bad precedent for the Legislature to pursue, and raises significant legal issues.”
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