Schumer joins rally against National Grid outsourcing

A rally was held at National Grid TMs headquarters in downtown Syracuse Thursday morning in an effort to prevent local jobs from being outsourced to other vendors. Senator Charles Schumer attended the rally, joined by National Grid employees and other local leaders.

Schumer says outsourcing jobs would violate the spirit of National Grid's 2007 agreement with state regulators who approved its plan to acquire Keyspan, and that the agreement called for the company to preserve jobs in Syracuse.

Around 200 high-paying information technology jobs could be affected by an attempt at outsourcing. Schumer says he made a personal call to Tom King, the Executive Director of National Grid, urging him to abandon reported plans to outsource the jobs.

"When National Grid merged with Keyspan in 2006, the company said they would work to keep the jobs in Central New York. Any attempt to outsource these jobs violates the spirit of that agreement," said Schumer. "Syracuse has a world-class workforce and during these tough economic times, we should be focused on keeping jobs in the United States, not sending them overseas and that is why I have called upon National Grid to fulfill their original promise to keep all the jobs at National Grid right where they belong- in Syracuse. From my conversations with Mr. King, I believe he is receptive to the idea that this is the right thing to do. My conversation with Mr. King made me feel that we're moving in the right direction."

The Post-Standard reported last month that National Grid officials told employees the utility planned to solicit proposals from outside vendors interested in taking over significant portions of its information services. Schumer said in a statement Thursday that "outsourcing these jobs could not only affect utility services for customers but put people out of work at a time when the job market is still weak."

National Grid issued a statement in response to Thursday TMs rally, saying We welcome Senator Schumer's visit and appreciate his concern about our employees and how we best serve customers. We will continue to work with the senator, because we have a lot more to contribute to the economic vitality of Upstate New York.

Because we are very early in the process of a prudent review of our Information System organization, and have made no decisions regarding our workforce, any claims of impact locally are speculative and premature.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.