DRYDEN, N.Y. — Even as Tompkins residents raise concerns about the proposed Dominion gas pipeline expansion, the company faces its own internal struggle.
As of Wednesday, union workers at the Borger Compressor Station on Ellis Hollow Creek Road in Dryden found that they, along with around 900 workers from across six states, were locked out and barred from working.
Dominion is in the midst of labor negotiations which appear to have broken down. According to a news release from Dominion, the union leadership refused to take a tentative contract agreement to the union membership for a vote.
“The uncertainty of the labor situation could leave our customers literally out in the cold. We cannot let that happen, so our companies have had to make a very difficult decision. We are taking the steps necessary to ensure continued safe operations and reliable service,” the company said in a news release.
Dominion is bringing on contractors and temporary workers to in order to maintain operations, and say that there will be no interruption of service for their customers and all safety and reliability work will continue as normal.
In a rebuttal letter, the United Gas Workers Local 69, the union representing the workers, said that they had not reneged on the temporary agreement, as it was never agreed that the agreement would be put to the membership for a vote.
Further, they said that the lockout was unnecessary as the union had never threatened a strike, and had offered a deal to the company to not strike if the company agreed not to do a lockout.
The core issue in the dispute, according to the union, is that the company wanted eliminate medical benefits for new hires when they retired.
Several local union workers were picketing outside the station in Dryden on Thursday, according to a report from WHCU.
An organizer at the scene told WHCU that despite the company’s assurances, the workers were concerned about the safety of the operation, since there is only a limited supervisory staff and non-union workers on-site now.