Assembly Energy Chairman Kevin Cahill Presses Dynegy and IBEW to Return to Negotiations
Albany – Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster/Dutchess) Chair of the New York State Assembly Energy Committee wrote to both Dynegy executives and the leadership of Local 320 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers urging them to resume negotiations and enter into at least a temporary agreement that would put workers back on the job and make the Danskammer and Roseton power plants safe and reliable again.
"At this critical time for energy in our state, we need to be able to count on these important assets." Assemblyman Cahill said. "The long illustrious history of these plants has never before experienced a work stoppage and there is no good reason that the parties cannot enter into temporary agreement, pending negotiation of a final contract."
Copies of the letter were delivered to John Kaiser, President of IBEW Local 320 and Martin Daley, Vice President and General Manager of Dynegy, Inc. Robert Flexon, Dynegy CEO, the Public Service Commission and others also received the letter. In the letter Cahill urged both sides to begin negotiations again and to resolve the argument quickly and fairly for the sake of safety, reliability, and economic stability in the region.
Houston based energy company, Dynegy Inc. and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 320 based in Poughkeepsie, New York, were not able to reach a new agreement, which ultimately led to a strike of over 100 unionized employees that went into effect when a hurricane Sandy related union contract extension expired at 12:01AM on November 8th.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that Dynegy is currently embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings and plans on selling the two striking plants in the immediate future. Additionally, Dynegy owes $23.4 million dollars to the Marlboro School District, the Town of Newburgh, and to Orange County. The increased uncertainty caused by this strike could lead to a lower sale price and therefore lower property tax rates for the political subdivisions concerned.
The full text of the letter from Assemblyman Cahill to Dynegy, Incorporated and IBEW Local 320 is included below:
November 30, 2012
John Kaiser, President
Local 320 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
80 Washington Street
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
Martin Daley, Vice President & General Manager
Dynegy Power, LLC
4 London Avenue
New Windsor, New York 12553
By mail and FAX
I write regarding the current dispute between Dynegy and Local 320 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. I understand that the parties believe that an impasse has been reached. It is my information that Dynegy has made what it characterizes as its “last best offer” and that was not acceptable to the members and leadership of Local 320. I have also been informed that Dynegy has refused to consider temporary measures such as entering into an extension of the existing agreement for a limited period of time. This refusal to pursue either course led to the conclusion on the part of Local 320 that Dynegy was not negotiating in good faith and that a work stoppage was necessary.
I urge both parties to return to the bargaining table and to begin negotiations anew. Current limited staffing at the Roseton and Danskammer plants is simply unacceptable. These facilities are critical to the reliability of New York’s energy grid. That these plants are not at the ready to be fully operational exacerbates the stress to the system that has already been traumatized by recent weather events. The likelihood of accident or other unsafe conditions brought about by limited staffing of individuals lacking the depth and breadth of experience of the regular work force is being unnecessarily increased.
Further, as Dynegy pursues a transition in bankruptcy court and through a possible sale, the value of these important assets is at risk of being diminished. The previously uninterrupted relationship between the plant’s owner/operators and the professional men and women who make up the IBEW Local 320 staff and crew of the facilities has long been admired by those of us who oversee energy issues in the State of New York. Indeed, the stability of relations between the owner/operators and the workforce has been a key component of the unique intrinsic value and reliability of these power plants.
The importance of the plants for assuring the long term health and stability of our electric system, particularly in the Greater Metropolitan area and the immediate surrounding communities, such as the Hudson Valley, is undeniable. Pending improvements to our transmission network and the possible closure or restricted use of other nearby power facilities makes the likely role of Danskammer and Roseton in the future even greater.
In order to assure the continued significance of these Hudson Valley assets, I urge Dynegy to return to the bargaining table with a view toward at least a temporary agreement. I also urge the membership and leadership of Local 320 to suspend their job action under a temporary agreement to allow the two subject facilities to be safely operated and maintained by the good professionals who have done so for so many years.
Kevin A. Cahill
Member of Assembly
cc: Garry Brown, Chairman, Public Service Commission
Stephen G. Whitley, President & CEO, New York Independent System Operator
Honorable Cecelia G. Morris, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
Robert C. Flexon, Chief Executive Officer, Dynegy Power, LLC