It's been two weeks since Hurricane Sandy killed 113 people, wiped out portions of towns, and knocked out power to millions. It has also been two weeks since Barack Obama pledged, "No bureaucracy. No red tape."
However, according to multiple public and private sources, unions and union-related red tape are causing workers from out of state to be turned back, as well as workers contracted by FEMA, as well as tons of supplies, already in New York and New Jersey to sit idle—at a cost of millions to taxpayers.
Long Island's Newsday reported over the weekend that the union's demands cost New York 125 extra workers to help with restoring electricity to those in the dark.
Barry Moline, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, said Long Island could have received 125 additional workers from utilities across Florida as soon as two days after the storm if a dispute about the letters had been resolved sooner. He said most of the crews from Florida who were available were nonunion and refused to join Local 1049 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, even if only temporarily.
Crews that could have come to Long Island went instead to Pennsylvania, Moline said. "We could have been there on Wednesday, and instead we arrived on Sunday," he said, after the union rescinded the requirement. [Emphasis added.]
It gets worse.
Over the weekend, a source (who wishes to remain anonymous) reported that contractors contracted—as well as, generators, water, and other supplies paid for—by FEMA are being idled at New York's Floyd Bennett Field by "red tape" requirements, while unions deploy their members and many storm victims sit in the dark.
While there are about 4,000 National Guardsmen at Bennett Field, there are hundreds of out-of-state contractors for FEMA, many of them linemen and electricians, that are not being deployed to help turn power pack on for residents because of the red tape.
On Sunday, out of the 400-500 workers available, according to the source, only three crews went out. Crews, he said, are usually two-man teams.
The union crews, the source stated, are free to come and go as they please, yet the non-union FEMA contractors are being held back because of red tape requirements.
The red-tape bottleneck, he said, comes from the Corps of Engineers. They get work orders in (places that need help), but the work orders don't come out as they should.
"I've never seen anything like it," the source said over the weekend.
On Sunday night, FEMA contractors put in one generator for a 14-floor building. Just one.
On top of that, there are tons of supplies in trailers, as well as rows and rows of water that are not being delivered.
Immediately after the storm, beer maker Budweiser converted its beer lines in Georgia to produce water—44,000 cases of water. That water was trucked into the storm ravaged area, but much of it is still sitting as residents in across Brooklyn and in Far Rockaway, Queens continue to boil their water as of Saturday.
According to a November 7 press release by the Defense Logistics Agency, fifty power generators and 150,000 blankets were sent to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (a FEMA staging area in central New Jersey) where FEMA-contracted crews are also experiencing red-tape related delays, though not nearly as bad as those at New York's Bennett Field.
Despite the fact that there is apparently a news blackout—FEMA contractors are not allowed to talk to the press—Americans are shelling out tens of millions in taxpayer dollars for FEMA contractors to be paid while not being allowed to do the jobs they brought in to perform.
So much for the "no red tape, no bureaucracy" that was promised nearly two weeks ago.
"Turth isn't mean. It's truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)