BOSTON (CBS) – A union official said it’s “shameful” that National Grid President Marcy Reed flew to Hawaii for her 25th wedding anniversary days before Tropical Storm Irene impacted Massachusetts.

Reed flew to Hawaii last Thursday, and on Friday, National Grid decided to cancel all employee vacations until further notice as Irene, a hurricane at the time, approached. Reed said she “felt very bad” that she was already on her vacation when that decision was made.

David Leonardi, President of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 369, said a “significant number” of employees canceled their vacations as a result of the storm.

WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton reports

“I’m really disappointed to find out that as our members are having their vacation canceled, she decided it was time to take a trip to Hawaii. I just think it’s appalling,” said Leonardi. “I think it’s all hands on deck with a situation like this with so many customers out of service, and the expectation at least for our members is that everyone pitches in and does their part.”

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano got reaction from homeowners, town officials

Reed cut her own vacation short when she was alerted about Irene’s severity. In a statement, officials with National Grid’s Massachusetts division said that Reed had difficulty finding a new flight, delaying her return to Massachusetts.

“Given widespread travel disruptions across the US, the earliest flight she could get was Monday. As soon as she landed on Tuesday, she began meeting with affected communities,” said National Grid in a statement.

See: State Rep. Wants Utilities To Give Rebates To Customers Who Lose Power

Reed, who said she took part in pre-planning meetings ahead of Irene, also clarified that Ellen Smith, the company’s chief operations officer, is in charge as big storms approach, and would have been in charge whether she was on vacation or not.

“The fact that I was out of the state for four days made absolutely zero difference to the restoration of service to our customers,” said Reed.

Leonardi, however, blamed management decisions, staff cuts and a lack of preventative maintenance for the delay in restoring power across Massachusetts.

“Our members are out there working very hard, they’re doing the best they can under a very difficult situation. It’s not their fault that the power’s not on,” said Leonardi.

Comments (27)
  1. IronManCC says:

    Anyone who whines about the President of the company being away for a few days on her 25th wedding anniversary needs to get a life, plain & simple. If the company is set up properly, then there should be a game plan in place with people in charge and actions being taken no matter where she is or isn’t. And she had regular communications with the company the whole time, so she was in the loop and could still make decisions, if need be.

  2. Dan says:

    IronManCC – Are you her husband? She had to have known cancelling employee vacations was a real possibility prior to leaving. Going anyway just sends the wrong message to the employees that had to cancel their plans and the customers they serve. Nice going.

    1. A says:

      hope you are not one of the ones that defended Obama’s Vineyard vaca

    2. Lisa says:

      My husband works for Natinal Grid, he knew on TH of last week he was going to work non-stop 12 hour days beginning on SUN at 6am. They had many nmeetings about this.

  3. sarahabt says:

    good lord…leave this women alone..she had plans….she did not know Irene was coming when she made her plans months ago….man…people will find anything….anything…to bash someone….

    1. Really? says:

      she may have had prior plans but so did we…and we never had the choice to go or husband was not given the choice…All vacations were canceled so I think it is disgusting that my husband has been force to work 16 hour shifts and lost our vacation but she got hers!!!! I am not complaining about the work it is what it is, but she was being was our 10 year..what makes it different?

      1. Lisa says:

        Could not agree more…as the “President” of a company…her plans unless they were life saving surgery that she or an immediate family member needed to have…should have been cancelled. When you are that high a level in any company to issue a directive to all of your employees to cancel their “just as important vacation plans” while you still go on your own…”regardless” of the reason is unacceptable. She can better afford to lose the $$$ from a cancelled vacation then her employees are able to do. Leading by example is definitely not this woman’s strongest management skill. As for all of the other employees who cancelled their vacations and to the families that have not seen them in days…”THANK YOU” from a greatful National Grid customer who feels that linemen/women are one of the most unappreciated professions going !!!
        Storm prep began in many areas on Tuesday so Ms. Reed was fully aware of the storm needs that her company faced..and still went on without her being present but her reasons are just an excuse for being a poor leader who has been in her current position for less than a month I believe. President of a utility company this is not but rather a bad leader…days into her leadership role so providing excuses for her “personal” lack of judgement is not tolerable to myself as a customer, the employees/families of. National Grid.. who gave up their own pre-planned vacation time. Ms. Reed’s lack of judgement has shown that she cannot lead a “team” when her needs go before that of her employees.

  4. Linda says:

    Bet she didn’t charge it to the taxpayers or fly with two big planes like our so called president and family did.

  5. anon says:

    I stopped reaqding this article after I read “a UNION official said”. I don’t care what any whiner in a union said.

  6. petem says:

    As always two sets of rules; one for the corporate execs and one for the rest…where were you all in the discussion about whether Mr Obama should have taken a vacation or where Mr. Patrick is? Mr. Obama took his vacation, the total of which that accounts for less than 1/3 of the time that George W Bush took AT THE SAME POINT IN HIS PRESIDENCY, and continued his daily briefings as presidents do, in Mr Patrick’s case, he attended an event in Washington and returned to the state w/in hours.
    In the case of this woman, i think it’s a tossup whether she should have gone. It does send a bad message especially since she cancelled all other vacations time, on the other hand she wasn’t the person running the storm recovery effort.
    In both cases it’s all about the optics.

  7. sean says:

    She was part of the planning so she knew employee vacations were being canceled and regardless of her role, she is an employee and the president so she should set the example. I bet if the news digs deeper they will find out the vacation was on the company’s tab.

  8. NewEngland_Seal_3 says:

    This is what happens when you leave a dope at the controls.

  9. aucucuxi says:

    Попробуем делиться тем, что Вы вчера готовили или просто вкушали, а приготовил кто-то другой на полдник. Как Вам больше нравится. А остальные будут читать и облизываться. Можно и рецепты давать, если хотите.

    1. Dave in NH says:

      Yeah……parastroika, baby!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Here’s one National Grid Massachusetts is sending crews to Rhode Island, and not offerring crews overtime for the weekend. Nice job managing. I would be fired if I pulled a vacation when a potential emergency was on the horizon.

  11. Short term New Englander says:

    New England people seem to be the most short sighted people in America. Most of the mid-west has laws against trees within 30 feet of utility lines. They keep their trees trimmed away from the lines. So that when you do have storms, the utilities have far less work to restore service. You also have to give utilities larger budgets so they can do more preventive maintenance on lines. So a lot of the blame rest on the citizens, not the power companies whose rates are regulated by the government elected by the citizens.

    1. response says:

      Not sure where you are, but here in the central part of MA, we have the second highest utility rates in the country…second to Hawaii.
      How much more of a budget do we need to give utility companies over what we are already paying per month. My electric bill is well over 200 per month.
      should I just fork over another 200 per month so utility companies can do tree maint? Utility companies should be out there doing regular maint. on an ongoing basis.

    2. Lisa says:

      How in the world are the resident’s of Massachusetts responsible for trees that
      are not on/around their legally owned land?? Tropical Storm Irene did what most strong storms do in all took down weak/diseased/older trees and how is this to be blamed on the resident’s of a state?? How does this pertain to transformers and other components that have failed during this storm? As for giving utility companies larger budgets..why? The trimming of trees falls on the respective towns and state jurisdiction based on the location of the tree so how does that comment pertain to what a great deal of Mass. residents cannot control?? As for your post name..”Short term New Englander” reside in the state of Massachusetts long enough to vote then you may judge it’s resident’s for what you believe is their fault..a tropical storm? Stick around long enough to experience a “Noreaster” then you can judge the residents on what you deem as their lack of responsibility!!!

  12. Ellen says:

    How about putting these power lines underground like what the power companies should have done years ago.

  13. njuguna muigai says:

    I dont think this lady is a technician her work is to manage the company and even if the she was in hospital work would still continue

  14. Please says:

    She could have postponed her trip beforehand as a gesture, knowing that a lot of employees would have to cancel/postpone theirs.
    Unions have nothing to whine about.
    This entire thing (as well as those winters past when we lost power for too long) shows poor planning. Sorry, my electric bill is paid on time every month and part of it goes towards emergency planning, plan better when you know bad weather is coming.
    At this point the best thing all utility co’s can do is get some supermarket gift cards and send them out to customers out more than a day or 2 days, placate.

    1. blackbear1 says:

      Nice post Please. The power companies have a PR nightmare of their own doing on their hands. I work in Public Safety and have much storm experience.. Natl Grid is great for one storm, and practically invisible the next. It should be obvious to all that this company president, even though she does not do physical work, must set the tone/example. I find the lack of communications, compassion and outreach disturbing.

  15. mike says:

    “Reed cut her own vacation short when she was alerted about Irene’s severity. In a statement, officials with National Grid’s Massachusetts division said that Reed had difficulty finding a new flight, delaying her return to Massachusetts.”

    She’s full of it. She knew full well what she was doing. Take off for Hawaii, then claim a change of heart and couldn’t get back in time because of the storm. She knew her vacation would be extended as the storm disrupted flight plans.

  16. judy L says:

    Give the poor woman a break, First of all vacations to Hawaii can’t always be changed easily. Secondly as far as the fact that people on the South shore have been with out power for a week, while I realize that it is frustrating and a horrible inconvenience (I’ve been there in other ice storms and nor’easters) that is what ii is an inconvenience. And while I know that some of you have lost $ through this time period and many have lost the contents of the fridge or freezer (or both) I know for a fact the many people in western Ma. and much of Vt, and other areas of NE have lost EVERYTHING. Putting that into perspective you really can’t complain about inconvenience can you?

  17. kathy norcott says:

    you had every right to go on vacation, but it was a wrong choice your workers had their vacations cancelled, you should be the leader and with your workers.

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