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January 8, 2013

AG fines National Grid over Sandy pay delays

BOSTON — Utility giant National Grid has been hit with a $270,000 fine for delays in paying hundreds of Massachusetts workers, including at least one from Gloucester, for their work in responding to the Superstorm Sandy cleanup in New York New Jersey and elsewhere.

Attorney General Martha Coakley says the state’s largest utility violated wage and hour laws.

National Grid reported technical problems with a new payroll system that resulted in as many as 2,000 workers not being paid for work they did in restoring power to residents in Massachusetts and neighboring states following the October storm.

Coakley sent a letter to the utility on Dec. 14 warning of penalties if the problems were not rectified.

She says some workers have suffered financial hardship as a result of not being paid for weeks.

Dan Hurley, president of Braintree, Mass.-based Local 369 of the Utility Workers Union of America, told the Gloucester Daily Times Monday that he applauds the attorney general for “holding the company accountable.”

“Unfortunately,” he added, “this remains unresolved,” adding that some workers who responded the Sandy cleanup have still not been paid for work dating back to October and November.

“We’ve had some paid at 40 hours, some less than 40 hours a week, some have been paid so that their yearly amounts on their W-2 (tax) forms will be wrong,” Hurley explained. “It’s just a systematic failure of this company and its management.”

Hurley said he has no idea, at this point, how much employees are still owed.

“That’s a hard number to get at,” he said, “They (National Grid) take two steps forward and one step back.”

Lineman Mike Valaskatgis of Gloucester, a lineman who was part of National Grid’s aid response to Mineola, N.Y., and other areas after Sandy hit in late October, told the Times Monday that he’s still owed some money by the utility company, “but we’re gaining on it.”

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