Stephania Jimenez and Thomas Kienzler
With CL&P's staffing lower than when last year's October snowstorm hit, Senator Richard Blumenthal is urging for the training and hiring of lineworkers. More staff could help power outage response and keep service for consumers this winter, he said.
About 100 Connecticut Light & Power union employees rallied outside the State Capitol Monday.
The union is angry about staffing levels maintained by the power company. They blame the slow after last year's storms to low staffing levels.
“Our performance was terrible, and it’s because we didn’t have enough people,” said Frank Cirillo, a member of the IBEW Local 420.
Cirillo said CL&P has to hire more people because consumers will suffer if they don’t.
“We got away easy during the last storms. If we get a winter ice storm and pipes start freezing and bursting in peoples’ homes, and they’re out of power for two weeks, that’s going to be devastating,” Cirillo said.
However, CL&P said they have the staff they need for the work they have and pointed the finger back at the union, saying the organization’s rules are preventing them from “scheduling lineworkers” when customers need them most.
While the dispute continues, hundreds of CL&P union workers are expected to rally along the steps of the Capitol building at noon Monday, to protest working conditions and staffing levels.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said he understands the union’s concerns and is also calling on the power company to add more workers to their payroll.
“CL&P needs to increase its staffing so that it can respond reliably to emergencies where power is down—better than it did last October,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
The Democratic lawmaker said he’ll do what it takes to make sure Connecticut doesn’t see a replay of power outages like it did last year.
“If CL&P is unresponsive and unreliable in the service it provides to its customers, we will have hearings if necessary,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
IN the meantime, residents are hopeful the lights will stay on this winter — regardless of storms.
“It might not happen two years in a row, but it could. ... I hope it doesn’t,” said Tim Oslund.