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Manhattan, blacked out by Hurricane Sandy
The right's usual ways of bashing union workers are a little more difficult when unionized public employees and utility workers are busting their asses to get New Jersey, New York, and other states affected by Hurricane Sandy back to normal. But with the whole "overpaid and lazy" myth temporarily out of commission, a rumor is going around the right-wing media that non-union utility workers are being turned away from helping with the recovery by the evil unions. But at least two of the southern utility companies being mentioned in these rumors say it's not true:
Bill Yell, spokesman for Huntsville Utilities, said nine of his employees are currently helping with recovery from Hurricane Sandy and had no union-related issues.

"That's a rumor," he said. "We are starting work this morning with Long Island Power Authority. We were headed to a New Jersey utility but they had all the crews they could handle."

A spokeswoman for Joe Wheeler Electrical Membership Cooperative said the crews from Trinity also are assisting with storm recovery and, in fact, are unionized.

The Huntsville Utilities spokesman also points out that you can't just show up and dive into working on power lines at random, because not every system is the same: "You don't just go up there and say, 'Hey, we're here. We're going to start putting up poles for you.'" (This obviously makes you wonder if some people have been turned away from working to restore power in affected areas, not because they weren't union members but because they showed up thinking it shouldn't matter if they knew the local system configurations or if they'd shown up in a place where more workers were even needed.)

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.

There have been reports that a nonunion crew was turned away from work in New Jersey. At this stage, it is not clear who is alleged to have turned the crew away and the company that employs the affected workers has denied the claim. 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.

But despite a lack of evidence that any qualified workers were turned away from helping, and denials that this happened from representatives of the union, two of the utility companies named in the rumors, and all sorts of representatives of New Jersey utility companies, this rumor will likely become an article of faith in anti-union circles.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 10:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One of the TP kooks politicized it to bash unions: (13+ / 0-)

    DanaBusted.blogspot.com:

    Chronic anti-union asshat Dana Loesch found some time to politicize Hurricane Sandy in order to bash unions.

    Excuse me, righties! The unions are NOT playing politics during the post-Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, and it's folks like you, Twitchy, and other right-wing cuckoos that are politicizing this, NOT the unions or the left!

    Typical right-wing tactics: demonize unions at all costs.
  •  After The Storm Power Outages Are Fixed, I Would (10+ / 0-)

    like to see the union running TV and radio ads in the affected areas, letting the public know that UNION WORKERS were working 24/7 to make sure power was restored. If the right wing can politicize the hurricane to bash the unions, the unions should return the favor, and let the public know how hard they are working. Let the favorable PR about unionized workers begin!!

  •  This story is spreading on Facebook (7+ / 0-)

    I wrote a diary about it earlier today.

    It is being put forth as a story of how folks went up to New Jersey to help and were turned away by a bunch of Yankee union thugs who would rather see people go without electricity.

    I have no doubt that it will continue to spread and will eventually end up on Snopes as a debunked urban legend.

    •  Yep, I've already been arguing about it. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, quaoar

      When I mentioned that amateurs working on major electrical systems can get other electricians killed, I was accused of knocking non-unionized electricians.  I ignored it but I was sorely tempted to mention something about shoes fitting...

      To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. -Abraham Lincoln

      by Eyesbright on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:53:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One wingnut "friend" on FB (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DianeNYS, Dirtandiron, kpardue, quaoar, filby

      posted a link to a Fox Business News video in which the idiot Stuart Varney, in an obviously heavily edited phone interview with the head of the Alabama utility, was in high dudgeon about the utility being "turned away" (indeed "turned away" was in the link title). i posted in reply a link from one of a number of more reputable sources in which the utility denied being turned away. She deleted my response.

      Which I found laughably appropriate for such an unbending wingnut: if the truth doesn't suit your obviously benighted worldview, just delete it.  

      2012 GOP Platform: "I've Got Mine, Jack."

      by Yankee Patriot on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:58:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nah (7+ / 0-)
    (This obviously makes you wonder if some people have been turned away from working to restore power in affected areas, not because they weren't union members but because they showed up thinking it shouldn't matter if they knew the local system configurations or if they'd shown up in a place where more workers were even needed.)
    That comment in the diary isn't even close to credible.  No linemen, local or out of town, will start work on anything without an assignment from the dispatch center, and consultation with the system engineers and other knowledgeable experts.  Plus, they'll need the specific type of components used by that utility.  The linemen are bringing their skilled labor and usually their service trucks.  They aren't bringing the poles, spools of cable, trucks full of transformers, etc., that are all needed to get the job done.  These components may come from other sources around the country, all coordinated by the utility.  It is possible that the visiting linemen were originally sent to a place that could not use more--problem not as bad as originally thought, no replacement poles available at this site, etc.--and sent to another locality where they can get right to work.
  •  Have you noticed (11+ / 0-)

    How much the right-wing does not understand about efficiency and resource planning? They figure that if a group goes out to help somebody, then that somebody should drop everything and accept it, despite being not appropriate, not needed at that position, or not an efficient use of time or resources.

    Let's revert all power back to the states - and then let's deal with the myriad different regulations, organizations, constitutions, utilities rather than trying plan resources to suit the current need.

    And they claim that this would increase efficiency. Sigh.

  •  CNBC just did a story on it. Caught only the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, brook

    tail end.

    Googled and it's starting to pop up mostly on Conservative sites.

    If it is true, the union's must get on top of the story before it surfaces to MSM level.

    It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

    by auapplemac on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 11:40:46 AM PDT

  •  I live in NJ-I don't believe any utility people (9+ / 0-)

    were turned away. There are utility trucks with plates from as far south as Alabama and as far west as Michigan.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 11:45:07 AM PDT

  •  not sure if Mississippi Power is unionized (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DianeNYS, Dirtandiron, kpardue

    I kind of doubt it but I appreciate that they came up and helped get our power back on here in PA

    Presidential Debates 2012: I. Big Bird; II. Binders; III. Bayonets.

    by InsultComicDog on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:38:33 PM PDT

  •  This (8+ / 0-)

    Is the M.O. Every time there is a disaster.  Remember those rumors about the unions not plowing during the snowstorm a few years ago?  They turned out to be completely made up.  But alas, it doesn't matter, as Matt Taibbi said "the goal for the right wing isn't to win the battle but to keep the battle going".

    •  The Shock Doctrine (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      filby

      Maybe on a smaller scale, but along those lines. They take advantage of disorder and disruption and people being off balance by some disaster. And they then use it to push their ideas on the population. Also, it's a way of deflecting criticism and resentment from the people at the top and deflecting it downward.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 09:35:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Utility manager here. (11+ / 0-)

    Mutual aid during a crisis is almost a sacred precept. Correction: it is a sacred precept in our business.

    If the lights are out we go out and get them back on, regardless of what the fuckin' Republicans say. Union shmunion at least while the stuff in peoples freezers is melting.

    Electric co-op workers are almost entirely unionized nationally. Private contractor employees are not necessarily, but y'know, they get paid pretty decently too, for bustin' their butts.

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:42:42 PM PDT

  •  criticisms not wholly answered (0+ / 0-)

    The critical news articles cite Decatur Utilities as getting turned away but  the article quoted here refers only to Hunstville Utilities workers, so the turned-away worker story is not completely refuted.

    Mississippi Power workers are unionized.

    I doubt that non-union help was turned away as a policy matter, perhaps a misunderstanding instead.

      For instance, the BE&K company is 'most-hated" to construction unions. They've been in several hand-to-hand combat situations on the picket line.  But after Katrina in Louisiana, the Plumbers Union in Louisiana allowed BE&K to set up shop in the union hall's parking lot too assist  in recovery efforts.

    •  From the link in the same story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron
      Upon arriving at a staging area in 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. It was and remains our understanding that agreeing to those requirements was a condition of being allowed to work in those areas. As we waited for clarification, we became aware that Seaside Heights had received the assistance they needed from other sources. To be clear, at no time were our crews 'turned away' from the utility in Seaside Heights.
      This refers to the Decatur Utilities.
    •  ah (0+ / 0-)

      Mississippi Power is unionized after all.

      They helped PECO get a lot of us back in business sooner.

      Presidential Debates 2012: I. Big Bird; II. Binders; III. Bayonets.

      by InsultComicDog on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 09:37:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw this story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stunvegas, Dirtandiron

    on Althouse this morning. The typical right-wing response to a demand for proof is "just Google it; it's all over the place." And when pressured for links, the right-winger can only come up with one secondary source citing a rumor--if they don't vanish entirely from the scene.

    Journalists, however, actually interview the people involved. Which must be why the media has a liberal bias. :)

  •  Does the GOP have a team of propagandists... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    efrenzy, Dirtandiron

    deployed to spread this kind of obviously politically motivated disinformation right up until the election?

    The GOPers have been frantically flailing about--alternating between ignoring Sandy; bringing up "benghazi!!" yet again; and, lying about....mostly everything.  

    Oh, and according to the top GOPer, keeps claiming that Jeep is sending jobs to China, despite Chrysler and GM leaders saying repeatedly that he's lying.  

  •  Yes, I've seen it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, ModerateJosh

    Five years ago when the power went out all over California during a huge storm, PG&E crews worked non-stop to get power restored. There were more neighborhoods than utility workers so it took a while. Our power was out for about a day when we spotted a PG&E crew working our neighborhood.

    One neighbor happened to be the superintendent of construction when the neighborhood was built. While it was raining sideways he walked up and asked the crew if they had any idea when power would be restored. What he learned was that they were from Southern California, had incorrect schematics for the system they had to fix, had been working for 36 hours straight and could get sleep only after they had restored power in our neighborhood. Oh, and they had a 22 hour deadline to fix our problem. The clock had begun less than an hour ago.

    My neighbor, a non-union guy who basically built the neighborhood, said, "Look here, here and here. If it ain't there, we're all screwed." And they went to work. We had power on 30 minutes later.

    All these utility guys want to do is finish. Doesn't matter how.


    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 08:08:08 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the link (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

     I just used it to refute my Fox loving, Union hating brother on my Facebook.  

  •  Limbaugh was pimping this story bigtime (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    today.  

    That and the NYC marathon.

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 08:57:54 PM PDT

  •  Overpaid and Lazy Myth Out of Commission? (0+ / 0-)

    Oh please. I've worked in unionized shops and I've seen overpaid and lazy first hand. It's not the fault of the employees, but the labor institution sure seems to encourage it. I've heard from more than one union worker about their job "hey, it's a good gig, I get paid for 8 hours, work for 4, and we play cards the rest of the night."

    On the other hand, I've seen union construction guys bust their asses all day long, but they worked for a private construction firm. The card players worked for city transit or down at the docks. Now I see it... combine unions with government, and the lazy myth survives.

  •  the gop is able (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    to spew their lies because most of their supporters are either haters or low info voters, suppress the beasts before they wreak more havoc on america.

  •  and of course (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    it's on the front page of Drudge

    Mitt and the GOP are openly, brazenly lying, and while that is nothing new, it does seem to be getting even worse.

    November 6th will mark a massive wave of right wing psychoses

    •  UPDATE - not IBEW at all... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, Red State Misfit

      An update from WAFF, who originally "broke" the "story":

      Late Friday at a press conference, Hardin said the documents actually came from Electric Cities of Alabama, a coalition of the state's municipally owned utilities.

      Bottom line, 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 IBEW said in times of crisis, help is welcomed from union and non-union utility workers.

      So, the whole thing was an in-state mess, and no IBEW or UWA officials were apparently involved.

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