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.
Is Sandy an act of God or others.................and the crazy man by the sea replied, "Our name is Legion, for we are many." And they begged Jesus not to destroy them and so Jesus let the Demons inhabit the bodies of pigs who then ran into the sea and drowned.
As a nation, do we let people drown because they became owned by Demons? Or do we save the souls who are here by God's will, not the Devil's temptations? Who are we America? Money hoarders or warriors for God? The semantics of faith, divides faith into the faithless. When we use Christ the King as opposed to Christ the Living God and Lamb and Messenger of God's Will, become demoted that that of Roman, French or English Titles of Entitlement and thus pseudo-honours, then we have failed to do God's will, but rather do man's. It is time to do God's will. It is time to save lives no matter the costs...............................God will provide the means to the men of true honours wherever they be, and without titles of hypocrisy. Pay foreward..................save those who cannot save themselves!
Good for the union guys standing together, reminds me of the NRA nuts. If you have some power, use it to your advantage.
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