UPDATE: A New Jersey power company denied Friday that it is turning away nonunion volunteer crews who want to travel great distances to help reconnect power supplies severed by Hurricane Sandy. But an Alabama utility is clarifying that it was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers [IBEW] — not the company — that turned them away.
Utility crews from several states East of the Mississippi River hit the road this week to volunteer their time and talents in Northeastern states hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. But crews from Alabama got the shock of their lives when other workers in a coastal New Jersey town told them they couldn’t lend a hand without a union card.
Derrick Moore, who works for Decatur Utilities in Decatur, Ala., told WAFF-TV in Huntsville that crews in Seaside Heights, N.J. turned him and his crewmates away, saying they couldn’t do any work there because they’re not union employees.
As a result, crews from Decatur and Huntsville left the Jersey shore and headed to Long Island to pitch in.
WAFF’s Mark Thornton reported that Moore and his coworkers “are frustrated being told, in essence, ‘thanks, but no thanks.'”
Another nonunion Decatur Utilities crew is idling in Roanoke, Va., waiting for instructions from Seaside Heights. The town asked them days ago for help, but later told the workers to stand down.
Electric repair work for public utilities in New Jersey is dominated by the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers, a unit of the politically powerful AFL-CIO.
Many parts of coastal New Jersey are projected to be without electric power for at least seven to 10 more days.