Amid Sandy’s devastation, Long Island union sent written demand to Florida utilities: Pay dues or stay home

On Saturday TheDC requested comments from New York State Public Service Commissioner James Larocca and spokespersons for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, State Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera and New York City May0r Michael Bloomberg.

Only one of those persons responded and asked for a copy of the letter. He would not answer questions on the record about whether government agencies could have exercised — or did exercise — emergency powers to clear the way for nonunion power crews who wanted to assist.

N.Y. Energy Law 5-117 addresses the governor’s special powers “during [an] energy or fuel emergency,” but those powers are limited to fuel and energy allocation, stopping wasteful energy uses, and temporarily waiving environmental laws.

TheDC also emailed Don Daley Jr., IBEW local 1049’s business manager and financial secretary, for comment. Daley’s name appeared on the “Letter of Assent” emailed to the Florida utilities, as the person who would sign on the union’s behalf.

He did not respond to questions about whether his union is using a natural disaster to grow its membership and collect revenue.

Claims similar to Florida’s have come in from Alabama and Georgia since the superstorm hit, but this report marks the first time documentary evidence has been presented to the public. (RELATED: Ga. power crew turned away from Sandy-stricken NY for refusing to join union)

The letter received by Florida utilities demanded that they pay IBEW member dues, provide workers with union-scale wages plus overtime, and allow crews to observe the “normal working hours” dictated by the IBEW’s contract.

It also required the companies to pay fixed percentages of every worker’s hourly wage into seven separate union-controlled funds, including a $9.75 per work-hour payment to the IBEW’s health care plan and 22.5 cents for every dollar of salary into its pension fund.

TheDC calculated that for a nonunion crew foreman normally earning $40 per hour in Florida, the mandated higher wages plus union contributions and dues would force a utility to pay $67.74 per hour for each worker completing power restoration tasks in New York.

For work performed on weekends or after 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, that overall rate would jump to $70.38.