There’s been a lot of denials going on since last Friday when it came to light that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) may have turned away non-union crews from helping in hurricane ravaged New Jersey because they did not carry union cards.
Despite a denial by the union’s international president, Ed Hill, a statement made by New Jersey’s governor Chris Chistie, it turns out, the IBEW has demanded unionization of the non-union crews.
On Friday, Ray Hardin, General Manager of Decatur [AL] Utilities appeared on Fox Business News and stated that his crews were being turned away from Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts because they were not unionized.
The report of a union demanding that only union workers aid in the recovery efforts was immediately met with a general outcry, then a ‘clarifying’ statement from the IBEW’s Ed Hill:
It is the policy of this union and the companies we represent to welcome assistance during major natural disasters – regardless of union status. [Emphasis added.]
At a press conference on Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stated:
“I’ve been on the phone with PSE&G [Public Service Electric and Gas Company], JCP&L [Jersey Central Power & Light] and the union, and they’ve all absolutely promised me they would never turn away a single worker whether they were union or nonunion, and I wouldn’t allow it,” Christie told reporters shortly after 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Despite the IBEW’s statement to the contrary, as well as Chris Christie’s assurances that non-union workers are welcome, it appears the IBEW throughout the New Jersey and New York areas are attempting to make sure that non-union crews become unionized before being allowed to assist in recovery efforts.
For example, according to the Daily Caller:
A business coordinator at a power company in western Georgia told The Daily Caller Friday afternoon that workers from his electric-utility employer were not permitted to help restore power to New York consumers because they would not join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Then, of course, there’s the smoking gun [via The Daily Caller as well] where the IBEW would “permit” Florida linemen to assist in the recovery efforts if Florida’s utilities agreed to paying into the IBEW’s funds:
In a two-page Oct. 29 contract, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 1049 demanded union dues, pay hikes and benefit contributions from Florida electric utilities before its workers would be permitted to help reconnect power to Long Island communities. The demand came as Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the Northeastern United States, stranding tens of millions without electricity.
The “Letter of Assent,” which The Daily Caller obtained from the Florida Municipal Electric Association, demanded 11 separate financial commitments from municipal power companies and electrical cooperatives in the Sunshine State. The agreement, for any utility that decided to sign it, would have been in force from Oct. 29 to Nov. 29.
Here is the letter:
While the term ‘extortion‘ often comes to mind when unions exhibit this type of behavior, it is worth remembering that unions are often exempt from laws that would land others in jail.
Nevertheless, the IBEW’s behavior during Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts are no less repulsive.
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)