Gov. Baker signs bill to extend unemployment benefits for locked-out National Grid workers

Boston Statehouse
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Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill Monday to extend unemployment benefits for locked-out gas workers. 

After more than six months, locked out National Grid workers were starting to run out of money and resources, but now they are thanking Gov. Baker for stepping in to help. 

A group of United Steelworkers rallied at the Statehouse on Monday to urge Gov, Baker to sign House Bill 49-88.

They say the bill would even the playing field with National Grid, giving them more leverage during contract negotiations. 

A lot of people are very happy today, wanted to thank Governor Baker, he did the right thing today, he showed that he has our backs,” said John Buonopane, Local 12012 president.

The United Steelworkers have been off the job since June 25, and their unemployment benefits were set to lapse by mid-January.

The House and Senate both approved bills to extend those benefits for an additional 26 weeks or until the lockout is over. 

“I’d like to say to National Grid that billions of dollars, you may think are powerful, but you can’t beat the heart and soul of the American worker,” said Joe Kirylo, President of Local 12003.

A spokeswoman for National Grid said it’s ‘unfortunate that the State has chosen to get involved in a private labor dispute, but their objective remains the same and that is to reach a fair agreement with its employees.’

On Friday, National Grid presented the unions with a revised contract which they are expected to discuss at length on Wednesday. 

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