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Suit Brought By Advocates for Justice: Utility Workers Sue Over Pay

As if the executives of National Grid did not have enough problems restoring the power in the Rockaways and on Long Island, they now face a lawsuit filed by their employees over pay.

The company’s unionized workers contend that they have not been compensated properly for all the extra work they have been doing since Hurricane Sandy struck on Oct. 29. Many of them have worked 16-hour days without a break for more than two weeks but have received just their regular weekly salaries, said Michael Conigliaro, president of Local 101 of the Transport Workers Union of America, which represents 1,400 employees.

“Our guys are getting the 40 hours,“ he said. “But they’re working 80-90 hours. We signed up for this. We get it. “ But, he added, the workers are becoming discouraged about not getting paid for all the overtime.

The problem stems from the company’s implementation of a new payroll system this month, Mr. Conigliaro said. A spokeswoman for National Grid, Karen Young, said there was an “automated payroll issue,” but declined to explain.

In a statement, she said, “All affected employees will be made whole as soon as possible.”

Mr. Conigliaro and five members of his local are named as plaintiffs in a class action filed against National Grid on Thursday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. The employees named all work in the company’s natural gas operations in Brooklyn and Queens, but Mr. Conigliaro said employees who operate the electric grid on Long Island had similar complaints.

Don Daley, the business manager of Local 1049 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents about 2,600 National Grid workers on Long Island, said the payroll was so erratic that some of his members received checks for zero dollars. He said that he understood the problems were companywide, affecting employees in upstate New York and parts of New England too.

“For special cases in which people weren’t paid anything, they are trying to get a check out to them for a 40 hour pay week,” Mr. Daley said.

National Grid, a British company, has a contract to run the power grid for the Long Island Power Authority and also distributes natural gas for heating in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

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