Example: [Collected via e-mail, November 2012]
Origins: On 2 November 2012, various news outlets reported that Alabama utility crew workers were turned away from helping to repair areas of
It's heartbreaking to witness the suffering of the people in New Jersey, as well as the other states in the northeast, because of the massive super storm earlier this week. Every effort should be made to get these residents back on their feet, and assist businesses in opening their doors again. Think of all the money being wasted, for every hour the economy in
It's unconscionable the Alabama technicians are being told to go home. This is highly specialized work, and
Residents of the state should be outraged by this moronic decision. They've been without power since Sandy first hit, and now they are going to be in the dark even longer, because their state is run by thugs. The good news is that
Ray Hardin, general manager of Decatur Utilities, said a six-member crew left for Seaside Heights, N.J. It got as far as a staging are in Roanoke, Va., where it waited for clarification of documents from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He said the
"It was and remains our understanding that agreeing to those requirements was a condition of being allowed to work in those areas," he said.
While waiting for clarification, Decatur Utilities learned Seaside Heights had received the assistance it needed. Decatur Utilities attempted to contact other areas that needed assistance, but decided to bring its crew home based on the uncertainty of union requirements, Hardin said.
IBEW spokesman Jim Spellane said he did not know what papers the crew was given, but "there appears to have been a misunderstanding." He said the papers may have dealt with a requirement that crews are paid the prevailing wage in the area where they are working. In
IBEW President Ed Hill said in Washington, "It is the policy of this union and the companies we represent to welcome assistance during major natural disasters — regardless of union status."
Ron Morano, a spokesman for Jersey Central Power & Light, which serves Seaside Heights, said
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the Alabama crew got "bad information" and
Electric utilities in Alabama reported sending more than 600 employees to help restore power in states hit by Sandy.
Decatur Utilities later issued a statement that said: "To be clear, at no time were our crews 'turned away' from the utility in Seaside Heights."
ECA is a coalition of Alabama's municipally owned electric utilities. Several north Alabama cities are members, including Huntsville, Hartselle, Athens, Florence, Fort Payne, Guntersville and others.
Harbin said the ECA sent the document to his offices for planning purposes. The ECA said Decatur Utilities might encounter this, because New Jersey is a heavy union state.
Decatur Utilities looked at the document, and Harbin said it indicated his workers would have to sign to become union members and pay union dues. But again, that was not the case.
The general manager of the other department mentioned, Decatur Utilities, has since verified claims that his workers were asked to affiliate with a union.
Bill Yell, spokesman for Huntsville Utilities, said nine of his employees are currently helping with recovery from Hurricane Sandy and had no union-related issues.
"That's a rumor," he said. "We are starting work this morning with Long Island Power Authority. We were headed to a
A spokeswoman for Joe Wheeler Electrical Membership Cooperative said the crews from Trinity also are assisting with storm recovery and, in fact, are unionized.
"It is not true for us," she said. "I don't know how we got lumped in there (in that report). We sent eight guys to Maryland, not
The crews from Joe Wheeler EMC went to Denton, Md., in anticipation of the storm and worked with Choptank Electrical Cooperative.
Yell and Phillips said they have been inundated with calls from national media outlets in the wake of the report, including Fox News and CNN, and several newspapers in New Jersey.
Yell said going to assist with utilities recovery is not as simple as sending donated goods and requires a lot of coordination.
"We were not turned away," he said. "It's a lot more complicated than that. One of the problems is whenever this kind of thing happens people call and ask, 'Are you going to send crews out?' but it's not a situation where everybody jumps in truck and heads up there. You have to work through trade associations. You have mutual-aid agreements and you've got to find a system that needs you and is able to take you."
He said some systems don't use the same voltage and may have different configurations. "You don't just go up there and say, 'Hey, we're here. We're going to start putting up poles for you."
The clarification comes after a utility company from Alabama said a six-man crew was headed to
Non-union crews should not be concerned about coming to
“We are accepting any available resource,” said Karen Johnson, a spokeswoman for PSE&G.
“We are working with our union and have non union crews participating in our restoration efforts,” said Ron Morano, a spokesman for JCP&L. “We continue to accept support from out of state utility companies and contractors.”
No out-of-state crews — union or non-union — that are coming to help
“We are welcoming whatever help comes in, union or
Aiello, Claire. "Decatur Utilities GM: Union Paperwork Was from Alabamae." WHNT-TV [Hunstville, AL]. 2 November 2012. Kazek, Kelly. "Utilities Deny Claims of Union Discrimination During Sandy Response." AL.com. 2 November 2012. Khavkine, Richard. "Union Officials Deny Non-Union Utility Workers Were Turned Away." The [Newark] Star-Ledger. 2 November 2012. Reitmeyer, John. "Non-Union Power Crews Welcomed in NJ to Help Restore Service." The [Bergen County] Record. 2 November 2012. Associated Press. "Ala. Utility Crew Returns Home." San Francisco Chronicle. 2 November 2012.