Friday, November 2, 2012

Stupid is as stupid does: Union politics slowing hurricane repairs in New Jersey

This is unbelievably, mindbogglingly stupid:

WAFF 48 News | Nonunion Ala. crews turned away from Sandy recovery
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. 
The crews that are in Roanoke, Virginia say they are just watching and waiting even though they originally received a call asking for help from Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
The crews were told to stand down. In fact, Moore said the crew from Trinity is already headed back home...
(Click here to see video report)

Are you kidding me?

There is repair work that desperately needs to be done, not enough people to do it, and they are turning away qualified help? I'm sure the families and businesses who are waiting for the power to be turned back on are thrilled to be supporting the unions.

When four hurricanes tore across Florida in 2004, countless trees were knocked down. The first storm to hit us, Charley, seemed to have declared war on the large oaks that formed the beautiful tree canopy in the neighborhoods where I grew up. The trees crushed homes, tore gaping holes in roofs, blocked roads for weeks...and ripped down utility lines on their way. 

Florida's utility companies faced a daunting task repairing downed power lines, snapped utility poles, and trimming damaged trees that threatened further destruction. There is no way they could have completed the work without out-of-state help, and thousands of workers came in to the state to help.

I remember venturing out with my mother the day after Charley, and as we drove down I-4, we passed a caravan of utility trucks with out-of-state license plates. Everyone in the other cars on the road were honking and waving at them, yelling thanks. I've never been so happy to see a utility truck.

The areas of New Jersey and New York that are without power have only been through a few days. News reports are already showing people dumpster diving in New York. As the days without power turn into weeks, and the weather gets colder (forecast shows low temperatures in the 30s for the next few days), it's going to get downright ugly. 

A final thought: the news report I quoted at the beginning of this post says that the Alabama crews "received a call asking for help from Seaside Heights, New Jersey," but that "they were told by crews in New Jersey that they can't do any work there since they're not union employees." 

This gives rise to several questions: who exactly called these crews to invite them to come to New Jersey? Was it the local government? And if it was union crews in New Jersey who told them they couldn't work there, who gave the New Jersey crews that authority? Why didn't the government or whoever made the initial call to the Alabama crews step in and make sure they were put to work?

Those New Jersey crews had better hope none of their neighbors are waiting for utility repairs. They need to get their priorities straight. Worry about putting their neighborhoods put back together now, worry about the unions later.

See also: NYC Mayor Bloomberg has a similar problem keeping his priorities straight.

1 comment:

  1. if i was waiting for power and found out that a utility company that could have helped me was turned away because of some union nonsense, i would be PISSED.

    these local and state elected officials need to be held accountable for what they are allowing to happen.


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