Unionized workers for New York City's Consolidated Edison on Friday threatened to strike on July 1 if they do not reach a new contract, as the utility worked to return power to Brooklyn and other areas that were blacked out in a heat wave.
""The fact is that Con Ed Chairman and CEO Kevin Burke, who takes in $18 million a year, can't keep the power on. We can," Harry Farrell, president of Local 1-2, said in a statement.
The union represents 8,500 workers whose contract ends at midnight on June 30. A ConEd strike in 1983 lasted nine weeks.
Con Ed said in a statement: "We look forward to productive discussions with the union leadership on a new contract that's fair and equitable for our employees and customers."
Farrell stressed the utility's vulnerabilities, saying upper management would not be able to fix aging parts if the system went down.
"Downtown Brooklyn could go out at any time on a massive scale," he said, warning that its residents might have to sleep on air-conditioned buses when temperatures soar again.
Neither side released details about the negotiations.
"Essentially, Con Ed is asking to overturn everything this union has worked for in the last 70 years - wages, pensions, health benefits - they want anything and everything," said John Melia, a union spokesman.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Stacey Joyce)