The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers today denied that the national office or any of its locals demanded that Alabama line workers unionize before pitching in to help get the lights back on in Seaside Heights.
In a statement, IBEW President Ed Hill said it is not the practice of the union to put up obstacles to crews coming into the Northeast to restore power.
“There have been reports that a nonunion crew was turned away from work in New Jersey,” Hill said. “IBEW local leaders in New Jersey have reiterated what has been the long standing record of our union – in times of crisis all help is welcome and we pull together with everyone to meet the needs of the public. We have communicated this to the office of New Jersey Governor Christie as well.”
But a utility in Alabama claims they received IBEW paperwork implying they needed to join the union before coming to the aid of New Jersey residents without power. In a statement, Decatur Utilities General Manager Ray Hardin said rather than comply with the demand and confused about the requirement, he pulled his crew home.
“Upon arriving at a staging area near Virginia, crews were held in place pending clarification of documents received from IBEW that implied a requirement of our employees to agree to union affiliation while working in the New York and New Jersey areas,” Hardin said. “It was and remains our understanding that agreeing to those requirements was a condition of being allowed to work in those areas.”
Several requests to view the documents received from IBEW were ignored.
The workers were on their way to Seaside Heights to aid the storm-ravaged shore town in getting power restored. Seaside owns its own electric utility and several calls to the utility were not answered.