Non-Union Utility Crew's Claim Of Being Rebuffed In NJ Comes Under Fire

Alabama utility crew New Jersey Hurricane Sandy
Out-of-state workers have been pouring into New Jersey to help with the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy, but one Alabama-based utility crew claims that it returned home because of a requirement that all workers be union-affiliated. Labor officials, a New Jersey utility company and Gov. Chris Christie deny, however, that any such condition exists.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers presented Alabama-based Decatur Utilities with documents stating that any utility crew coming to help out had to be unionized, according to Decatur's general manager, Ray Hardin.

A six-member crew headed north for Seaside Heights, N.J., to help restore electricity, but ended up heading back home after they got to Virginia -- not because they were "turned away," Hardin told The Star-Ledger of Newark, but simply because they couldn't clarify whether they'd be allowed to work at all.

"That was something that we could not agree to," Hardin said of unionization to Fox Business on Friday. "It was our understanding and still is that it was a requirement for us to work in that area."

Unions have a much greater presence in New Jersey than Alabama: They accounted for 16 percent of workers in that Northeastern state in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 10 percent in the Southeastern one. (Alabama leads its region in union membership, however.)

But union officials completely deny that there was any such condition. "It is the policy of this union and the companies we represent to welcome assistance during major natural disasters -- regardless of union status," Jim Spellane, spokesman for the national office of the IBEW said in a statement. Gov. Christie said the Alabama crew got "bad information" and that non-union crews are welcomed in the recovery effort, according to The Associated Press. Jersey Central Power & Light, the New Jersey utility which provides power to Seaside Heights, is using non-union crews to help restore power.

The Seaside Heights municipal utility, which the Alabama workers were planning to assist, isn't even represented by the IBEW, according to Donald Siegel, the vice president of the IBEW's district officer in Philadelphia, which is responsible for locals in New Jersey Pennsylvania, and New York. He told The Star-Ledger that they couldn't find any evidence of the paperwork Hardin mentioned.

"I don't know where they got that correspondence," he said. "It didn't come from IBEW. It didn't come from any of the locals that I'm aware of."

Another Alabama utility Huntsville Utilities said the fact that it wasn't unionized didn't create any problems when they sent their crews to Seaside Heights. Their workers left the area and moved on to Long Island, communications manager Bill Yell told The Star-Ledger, simply because the state "had all the crews they could handle."

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I worked NON union for 24 years...plumber.never had less than 40 hrs usually 50 19.00 per hour in 1994 when i retired so who needs union.........this is in fl

November 11 2012 at 9:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

after going to union meetings and being told to sit down and shut up because i asked some questions they didn't want to answer, watching operators run over shovels and other material because it took a labour to move them, not moving a piece of equipment 20 feet because it took a teamster to cover it, i started working non union. my boss said it's not the money it's she stupid rules that doomed the unions. i worked union for 18 years i seen all of this go on

November 11 2012 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred Payne

Seems to me the people that do all the union bashing have never worked for a union. Union workers on average draw better wages have better benefits and retirement. Maybe some folks are just envious. I worked for a union for 39 nine years and recently retired. Unions these days are the first to want to weed out poor workers because better standards mean better jobs. If you never worked for a union why do you think you know all the answers about how union operate. Multinational companies won't pay you a decent wage just because they are nice guys. Trickle down economics doesn't work. Workers organizing is in most cases the only way to improve working conditions, wages and job security. Having said that, there are still some unions that put workers before everything else. Videos of police beating handcuffed civilians followed by their union rep saying we don't see anything wrong in this situation come to mind.

November 07 2012 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

also heard the crews from out of state said LI' infrastructure was the biggest pile of doggie poo they had ever seen. what a surprise.

November 06 2012 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


November 06 2012 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unions and their outragious demands is what sent companies out of USA. Get those union people on a job and you play hell getting rid of them no matter how incompetent they are.

November 06 2012 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Unions Create Global Warming to Screw Alabama !!!!! You heard it here first on FAUX News . Hard to believe they can legally call Fox NEWS !! Kind of like the national enquirer > Every 10 min. they tell you how Fair and Balanced they are

November 05 2012 at 12:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

NO ONE STOPPED THESE PEOPLE!!!!! Union or otherwise no one stopped them They did not contact FEMA or any union hall !!! They just could not find anyone to guarantee a pay check in advance!!! For all we know their own boss told them that so they would go back to work instead of trying to get an overtime windfall !! You can keep bashing unions or maybe think about the CEO who gets fired and still collects a 100 Million dollar severance package !! THINK FOR YOURSELVES oh and actually read before blindly bitching

November 05 2012 at 12:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

the onlything the union wants is your fees and they are the ones makeing money not the workers .

November 05 2012 at 12:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

every one knows the union does not want none union workers showing them how to get things done

November 05 2012 at 12:21 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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