Town Council Backs National Grid Workers with Moratorium

The Winthrop Town Council voted for a resolution implementing a moratorium on new gas main permits in town.

In doing so Winthrop joined many other communities in the moratorium including Revere, Cambridge, Everett, Malden and Melrose. The moritoriuam does allow for emergency permits.

Tuesday night Rocco Leo, a locked out National Grid employee from Everett joined fellow locked-out worker and Winthrop resident Joe Garcia, and other National Grid gas employees in asking the council for its support.

“Our fear is that there is no oversight because of the lockout. We’re here for public safety,” Leo said. “If a project needs to be completed we are saying to go ahead. This only pertains to new permits.”

The lockout of 1,200 employees in USW Local 12003 and 12012 back in June when their contract expired. Since then National Grid has been bringing in outside help. The last lockout was in 1993, Leo said.

There were concerns expressed about the safety needed when working with gas. School Committee chair Tino Capobianco said he was concerned about the public safety issue.

“Students will be walking to school soon, a number will be biking to school and the fact that some of these underqualified and undertrained workers may be working on a potential gas leak is extremely concerning to me,” Capobiano said. “We need to stand together and stand with our neighbors.”

The moratorium was placed in committee two weeks ago. The council was asked to take it out of committee and vote on it. Precinct 3 Councilor Peter Christopher said they were seeking more information, especially on the impact on Winthrop. Councilor Phil Boncore asked about people who may be working on their homes. But he was told this is for new permits. Currently, there are three new homes under construction in town.

DPW head Steve Calla also expressed concern about the situation noting that he has to be licensed for water and sewer work.

“This is gas,” he said.

He added that a new service to a property doesn’t require a new gas main.

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