National Grid gas workers who have been locked out since June are set to be back on the job later this month after their unions on Monday ratified a new agreement, and the company expects to resume non-emergency gas work next month, although its workers reportedly face a substantial backlog of commercial real estate projects in need of gas service.

The heads of United Steelworkers locals 12003 and 12012-04 last week applauded the tentative agreement and on Monday announced their union members had voted to ratify a new, six-year agreement replacing the contract that expired on June 24, 2018.

“It’s a good deal for both sides, but it took an awful lot to get to this place,” Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, told reporters. “We know these past six months have been challenging for all of our employees and also our customers. We have a lot of hard work ahead to mend relationships with our employees, to address connection issues that have been delayed, to implement new contract terms, and of course all while continuing to serve our customers.”

According to National Grid, the employees will return to work the week of Jan. 20 “after an onboarding process that factors in such details and logistics as licensing, system access and medical testing.”

“We are very proud of our members who stood together over the past six months. National Grid’s decision to lock out 1250 of its most experienced employees last June caused significant hardship for so many residents, businesses and communities through Massachusetts,” John Buonopane, president of USW Local 12012, and Joe Kirylo, president of USW Local 12003, said in a statement. “Our first priority is the safety of our communities and we look forward to returning to our crucial work of providing the safe natural gas service the commonwealth of Massachusetts deserves.”

With the gas workers at risk of exhausting their unemployment benefits by mid-January as contract negotiations continued, Gov. Charlie Baker on Dec. 31 signed a new law calling for benefits for locked-out workers to be extended for 26 weeks or until a lockout has ended. Two days later, on Jan. 2, National Grid and the unions announced they had reached a tentative agreement, subject to ratification Monday.

Gas Workers Ratify Contract, Due Back to Work This Month

by State House News Service time to read: 1 min