Nonunionized utility workers turned away in Jersey
The story is being trumpeted by the conservative media and has caused an uproar online. But it's inaccurate.
TV station WAFF, citing Derrick Moore, a crew member from Decatur Utilties, said workers "were told by crews in New Jersey that they can't do any work there because they're not union employees." Crews from Decatur and Joe Wheeler EMC, an Alabama cooperative, are in Roanoke, Va., though the Joe Wheeler crews are heading home, the report said. They had expected to go to Seaside Heights, N.J., which has been ravaged by Sandy, and are instead going to Long Island, N.Y.
But workers for Joe Wheeler, based in Trinity, Ala., are unionized and are going home after being deployed to Denton, Md., according company spokeswoman Mandi Philips.
"I don't know how we got thrown into the mix," she said, adding that the crews are coming home because their work is done.
WAFF news director Adam Henning told me before the utility's statement was issued the station stands by its story. Ray Hardin, the general manager of Decatur, told FOX Business on Friday that officials from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers presented workers with documents that "required our folks to affiliate with the union," which the company wouldn't agree to. It's unclear exactly what that means.
In a press release, Decatur said it waited for "clarification" of documents from the IBEW "that implied a requirement of our employees to agree to union affiliation" while working in New York and New Jersey.
"As we waited for clarification, we became aware that Seaside Heights received the assistance they needed from other sources," the statement says. "To be clear, at no time were our crews 'turned away' from the utility in Seaside Heights."
The IBEW wasn't immediately available for comment.
Mike Langford, the president of the the Utility Workers of America, told MSN that his members frequently work alongside nonunion workers. He added that companies, not employees, determine which workers are allowed in their territories.
"Of course, we would like to see all workers in unions," he said. "Nobody is being turned away from doing work. It's all hands on deck."
Pepco Holdings' (POM) Atlantic City Electric, whose service area includes the storm-ravaged Jersey shore, is now "aware of this occurring in our service territory. We are focused on the restoration effort," according to spokesman Frank Tedesco. Ron Morano, a spokesman for Jersey Central Power & Light, another New Jersey power company, is quoted in the press as denying that nonunion workers were not welcome.
It's easy to see why this story resonated with political conservatives. New Jersey certainly has a strong organized labor movement, though as in other places nationwide, its power has diminished considerably over the years. Unions do flex their muscle from time to time in the area in ways that are counterproductive. In Philadelphia, hotel operators recently complained that "unless things change drastically on the labor front," the Convention Center will lose major bookings, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The lesson here, however, is the same one that parents everywhere teach their children: Don't believe everything you read.
Story updated to add statement from Decatur Utilities.
Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter@jdberr.
Unions, like the ACLU have long out lived their usefulness. Unions have made the Democratic Party it's tool. Where else but at a union jobsite can you find 10 guys standing around getting paid, waiting for 1 guy to unload a truck, because "It's not my job".
This article is yet another reason for California voters to vote YES on proposition 32, and end the Union stranglehold on Sacramento.
Unions....that word leaves a very bad taste in my mouth!
This is probably true...
I hope every one has a chance to read this and BELIEVE in it.
It happens so often and no offense to NY and NJ, but it probably happens in other "non-important" states during floods, tornados, etc....but because it's NY and NJ it's a BIG story.
It needs to be. Get rid of UNIONS once and for all....oh what...that would mean the COLLAPSE of the DUMOCRATIC party....the party of the UNIONS.
Do UNION workers do a better job...I doubt it....
but hey, if they don't want nonunion help...I say....SCREW NY & NJ and every other state that denies ANY kind of help!!!
Anybody wonders why unions are Pro-Democrats?, why should you bar anybody that is qualified from doing work?................Hopefully we will get rid of this clown of a president we now have
Unions should be abolished. Good workers don't need them so they pay dues for nothing, and protects the lazy, POS good for nothings that should be fired.
not a big fan of unions. I always wanted my pay to be based on MY merit not some suits vote for all employees. You could be in the union and be a slug and still make as much as the top dog. Sounds fair doesn't it?
I feel any job paying twice or three times the minimum wage should not have unions. But that is MY opinion
Unions have "work-ruled" their people out of jobs, and sent it all over to China & India. Don't ever forget why many manufacturer's fold. They do so by out-of-control unions, holding the company hostage, and ya know what; "they call their bluff!!"
Just ask Pan Am, Eastern Airlines, TWA, and a host of other "name brands" that aren't any longer..... And Obama is right in bed with them!!!
Real Recovery - 2012 - Romney/Ryan!!
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Breaking up big banks is an untested solution to the too big to fail problem that attempts to isolate and dismantle large, troubled institutions while protecting the rest of the economy.
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