Non-Union Electrical Workers Being Turned Away From Hurricane Relief Efforts In New Jersey


Power has been out in parts of New York and New Jersey for a week now, and the latest news report indicate that it could be out for another ten days. Things have gotten so bad that in New York City citizens have taken to dumpster diving for food.

So, when qualified electrical workers from around the nation offer to come to these communities and help get the power back on, what’s the top priority? Actually getting the power back on or making sure that everyone is paying proper homage to organized labor?

In New Jersey, it’s apparently the latter:

WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY (WAFF) – The hurricane-ravaged east coast has been receiving north Alabama help, but crews from Huntsville Utilities learned they’ll be doing work in Long Island, New York instead of in New Jersey.

Crews from Huntsville, as well as Decatur Utilities and Joe Wheeler out of Trinity headed up there this week, but Derrick Moore, one of the Decatur workers, said they were told by crews in New Jersey that they can’t do any work there since they’re not union employees.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Maybe this is why union membership nationally is in decline.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • two_amber_lamps

    Let them eat cake… spoiled moldy cake since their refrigerators don’t work.

  • Wayne

    Didn’t you read the comments, on the post about decreasing union popularity, about how good unions are for the people?

    • sbark

      ya, if you an at best a ave. performer in your job, then the union will enable you to get more than your worth……
      If a person is a top level performer…….you will join a union which will inhibit your work, your pay, your ambition,………it makes you “one of the boys”, and keeps you there
      This is why so many good young teachers come out of school with great aspirations but get dumbed down by the union to a level that is “acceptable” to those with tenure, that dont want the boat rocked.

      • Wayne

        No likes an over-achiever in the union.

  • Roy_Bean

    In an electrical lineman’s union I believe that achieving a level of union membership means that you have passed a national standard test proving a level of knowledge, ability and experience. Because of the potential danger in working with high voltages these union workers have kind of a zero tolerance for shoddy workmanship. Their lives depend on it. This is a way for a company in New Jerzey to know that they are getting qualified workers.

    • SigFan

      Maybe – but these folks are licensed electricians working for power companies in right-to-work states. I hardly think they’re going to do shoddy work.

      • banjo kid

        I do agree but what verification did they bring ? do they just walk up and say I am an electrician with no papers to prove it . Some states are lax and others are not . I am not advocating only union workers by no means but certification is paramount.

        • SigFan

          If they are licensed and insured/bonded they would have that information with them. And that’s not to say that some people with license’s won’t or don’t cut corners, but I have seen union electricians do some pretty boneheaded things too. I could write a book on what I’ve seen UAW electricians do (or not do) over the years. When help is offered and a person appears to be qualified these union goons need to stand down.

          • banjo kid

            Buddy have a drink! you are right we have bone heads out there and I have seen some really gross mistakes on both sides union and non union .

          • SigFan

            At one time I worked for a company that made high voltage/UHF power systems for induction heating and treating of metals. I can’t tell you how many times I would get out into a plant and find out the numbskulls had defeated the safety interlocks to get into the control panels without shutting the power down. The vacuum tubes on the RF supplies we made were about 12 inches in diameter and 36 inches high and if you got within 3 feet of them while hot they would arc like a lightning strike. We actually won a couple of lawsuits because the persons killed had deliberately defeated the safeties. People of all stripes can do some really stupid things.

      • Roy_Bean

        “licensed electricians” don’t work on 50,000 volt transmission lines.

        • SigFan

          They do in right-to-work states – like Alabama. If they are qualified to work on the transmission systems in AL they are qualified – period.

          • slackwarerobert

            No, alabama uses dirty coal electricity. That is way different than politically correct “clean” power. They will look at that plate of spegettee overhead and ask what nut put that grid in? Besides alabama electricity is racerist. So how is the “Cake Boss” doing?

        • banjo kid

          They are called lineman , no big deal I for one would not work on 50,000 volts as it also has unlimited current enough to crisp you up pretty good . I mentioned the other side just as an after thought . 4160 is what most towns deal with, yes you are right.

          • SigFan

            Technically you and Roy are right – they are linemen, not electricians. Just a short-hand device on my part to describe these folks.

          • banjo kid

            Like I said no big deal , they are highly qualified to handle that high voltage or they had better be. When I was an electrician working for a plant back in the 80’s I found jumper cables by passing a breaker (440VAC) . so what else is new? the gene pool can be shortened real quick/

        • Thresherman

          I think that you need to study up on how unions work. Unions have 3 classes of members in the trades, apprentice, journeyman and master. An apprentice is just that, someone learning the trade and as such has no high qualifications, a journeyman has passed tests for his level, but those tests are administered by a governemnt regulatory agency, not the union. Jouneymen make up the bulk of the work force but they are required, as are apprentices, to work under a master who carries a higher level of certification, also administered by the government. Now the union provides and requires training to take and pass these tests, but they do not set the qualifications and requirements. Incidentally, non union and union linemen have to meet the same standards as dictated by the governmental agency.
          Additionally, these agencies have agreements with other states that allow their licensing qualifications to be accepted in other states in order to allow workers to relocate. Additionally, temporary waivers can be given in cases of emergency. The unions do not get to make that call, the state agencies do.
          So what we have here is not a the unions taking a stand on quality of work, they are trying to take the law into their own hands in order to get into a pissing match with non union linemen.

      • robert108

        True; this is unionism run wild.

    • The Whistler

      Unions exist to keep those that are unqualified employed. In a non union job if you screw up you get fired. In a union job the screw ups get promoted because of seniority.

      I know which ones I want working on my place.

    • slackwarerobert

      Have you seen the pictures of the overhead power lines in NJ? The sky is black with them crisscrossing overhead. Looks like a palistine ghetto.

      • The Whistler

        Put up by union thug linesmen.

    • banjo kid

      Its that way in most apprenticeship programs

  • Befuddled

    Are the lights out where you are so you can’t read? It SAYS they are QUALIFIED in Alabama…they work for Huntsville Utilities. Not EVERY state is a union state. So what..all the people in Alabama have shoddy electrical work done and their utility company is out to electrocute them and burn their houses and businesses down? Before you get into how important the standards are, read first and then don’t insult Alabama. Those workers probably meet HIGHER standards because if they screw up on the job, they don’t have a union to protect them and threaten anyone who tries to fire them!

    • banjo kid

      You have to have qualified people or someone would be electrocuted every day, no experience means sudden death with the high voltages present in our home power lines. It is not just 220 but 4160 and that will fry any ones egg. Even higher voltages on the other side . 220 along with 110 goes into the home ,most work is on the very high voltage side . Current is very unforgiving . Verification is the first priority. My electronics teacher told me an electron tube (SCR) equivalent; is not hot on the out side case , I found out what 440 feels like as I barely touched the out side case and found it to be hot. He apologized so many times I had to tell him to stop, LOL . Bad grounds can cause electrocution of the residents so it is a very important thing to be certified . One slip and you are dead.

      • slackwarerobert

        Where do you live? I only get 110 lines, and use two 110v legs to get my 220v. But if the grid is down, then there is ZERO volts on the lines at the moment.

        • banjo kid

          the two legs as you call them are the entire winding and the center tap is where you get 110 . believe me you have 220VAC . The grid being down yes you would have zero volts ??? Apparent power is what we are charged for not true power . I think maybe you don’t understand basic electricity . You can go to either side and the center tap and get 110 but all 220 comes from the entire winding .

    • Maryann White

      my stepson works in electrical and he is not certified,, so alabama does have some non skills workers in electric and I am from mobile al and living in NJ right now!

  • Harold

    For New Jersey and Obama supporters nationwide. This man did promise that if he is elected again everything would be free to us. So sit tight east coast all the free stuff will be coming your way soon.

    • banjo kid

      ROTFLMAO !

  • AV

    And don’t forget, reconstruction is big bucks, with govts and insurance companies footing the bill. It’s the “magic” of the market-place. Even electricians will try to get their cut. How is this worse than financial speculation, or whatever?

    P.S. And of course there are safety and standards issues as well, as covered by Roy, in another post.

    • robert108

      This is the greedy unionists gobbling up their “cut”, comrade. Get some focus.

  • Phillip_in_TX

    This is “Cranial Rectal Inversion” at its FINEST! I am sure the people without power are going to be “absolutely thrilled” once they hear about this.

  • sbark

    Didnt Obama say he would not tolerate any govt red tape, any form of govt slowing down releif help, which would then include union protectionism……………
    isnt he then admitting under “normal circumstances”…..govt is then in the way of the free market operating at peak performance?

  • Granddaughter in MS

    My grandfather said,in the 1940’s that ther unions would be the ruin of this couintry-WOW.

    • WOOF

      Has the country outlasted him or is he still waiting for the apocalypse ?

  • John Motor Simotes

    Alabama has probably more experience than every other electrical crew there in dealing with getting power up after a hurricane. I can not think more than 3 to 4 days the south goes with out power to the people. Here we are a week out and millions still out of power in union town. You yankees want to talk about the the south but this is just stupid…. Have fun sitting in the dark and cold…..

  • Jay

    I was a union member for years, but I NEVER understood why unions want to shut nonunion people out of work. At this point, the politics should be set aside in favoring of restoring people’s electricity. Ggggrrrr…

    • robert108

      Socialism always seeks to control markets through controlling supply.

    • jokel

      this is a fake, not happening. You people are fools for buying this nonsense.

  • robert108

    A disaster like Sandy reveals the true nature of socialism: shortages and rationing that is completely unnecessary when market forces are allowed to work. This disaster has created a demand for various skills and resources, and the unionists automatically move to block the increased supply. They want power for themselves, not for the residents.

  • Tired of BS

    It’s been less than a week since the hurricane hit, get your fricken facts straight, don’t make it sound worse than it is….god I hate the media!

  • terribleorv

    Hard to believe there are not standards throughout the country which would allow an employer from Maine to know exactly what the fellow across from him, in from Wyoming, means, and what he’s capable of doing, and has the papers to prove it, when he tells him he is a Class One Electrician. Of course a few feathers may be ruffled, a few Affirmative Action feelings hurt, but this is what’s needed.

  • slackwarerobert

    I think it is more devious than just they are not unions.
    I think it is substandard work and rigged meters. You can’t have an electrician who’s first priority isn’t to protect the union. What happens when they are working on a dead line, and they notice the meter on the homes are still spinning. A union electrician will keep his mouth shut because that is money going to his pocket.

    Remember chicago this week, they had been stealing money with the bus lines for decades.

  • slackwarerobert

    Only thing I can’t figure out is the gas lines. At least half the population in jersey should be able to show them how to siphon the gas out of the tanks at least, even without power to the pumps.

  • Truther

    Linesmen are liscenced by the state they work in.

  • Guest
  • Guest

    And, btw, here it is straight from the big horse’s mouth:

    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Ed Hill said in a statement:

    “It is the policy of this union and the companies we represent to welcome assistance during major natural disasters—regardless of union status.”

  • Brent Rehmel

    Here it is straight from the big horse’s mouth:

    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Ed Hill said in a statement:

    “It is the policy of this union and the companies we represent to welcome assistance during major natural disasters—regardless of union status.”

    And here are reports on two of the three crews that were supposedly turned away:

    11/02 08:30 AM update:

    11/02 10:44 AM update:

  • OneyeVet

    Lineman in NJ Pass the exact same NEC Codes test that AL Lineman do… Also 50,000 Volts or 4160 Volts your dead all the same… This is a classic example of why unions have out lived there usefullness…

  • FoSqulizzle
  • dkpenman

    There’s more to the story. Unions are a bunch of thugs, but if they are not guilty, I’ll leave them alone. Apparently the media are not getting the story right…what else is new?

  • Matt

    Heh, turns out you CAN make this stuff up – because the whole thing was bogus. Read the update – they weren’t turned away, their boss can’t read and called them home

  • slang68

    Well cool New Jersey is all find no more help or assistance needs to be sent there.

  • Joe O’Brien

    To anyone reading this…please investigate this issue a little deeper. The Unions had absolutely nothing what so ever to do with the screw up with the Alabama lines crews not working in Jersey. It was their own people in Alabama who miscommunicated and by the time it was all squared away Seaside Heights had enough crews working so they sent these guys to Long Island. Please do some research on sites other than Conservative ones.

  • repair dave

    I have little sympathy for the people in NJ when they allow this sort of behavior in the face of disaster…..surprised Gov Christy didn’t step in and tell the union to p### o%%

  • Dufrain Galt

    I worked for an un-named utility… I was non-union (management)… non-management were union… One employee sued via the union because his truck’s A/C was not working properly… So we had the A/C taken out of ALL THE TRUCKS, therefore he wouldn’t feel discriminated against… True story!

  • jokelley

    completely fake article, not a word of truth to it, dont’ be fooled

  • edwin

    “Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark”

  • Michael V. Perea

    I’m from New York and am embarrassed by the actions of the Union there. What the hell is going in this world, that you can’t just be grateful for help unless it’s a specific kind of help? Explain to my sister and her family, (who lives on the Island) why their lights are still out and why they can’t back to some form of normalcy, because some self serving troglodytes can’t get past their own greed… Really?

  • Billy_D

    I read the WAFF-TV release which says in part “it appears now that Decatur Utilities wrongly assumed they would have to agree to the union contract before traveling to New Jersey to help with recovery efforts.” The operative phrase is “wrongly assumed”. Based on that wrong assumption Decatur Utilities unilaterally decided to pull its crew out before ever arriving on scene. According to the WAFF-TV report, other utility crews from Alabama are still helping with storm cleanup. Huntsville Utilities said they were not turned away and are in Long Island, New York.

  • Jonny union

    Have you notice the people who hate unions are the ones that are not in them. We make more money andmlive a better life because we pay dues so TOGETHER we can buy great benefits and educate our self? So when someone wants to benefit from our hard work and OUR money we pulled together why don the uneducated and under payed non union people get so mad. Its our club so pay or dont come and play.

    • NonUnion

      Educate our self?

      I was forced to be in a union and hated almost every minute of it as I was constantly bombarded with political propaganda. I’m no longer in a union shop, now I make more money and have far better benefits and working conditions.