Unions in hurricane-ravaged areas turn away non-union assistance

It’s a story so insane that union political hacks were able to get away with denying it for a day or two, but it turns out to be true: unions in New Jersey and New York are turning away assistance from non-union workers who raced to the superstorm-ravaged area to offer their help.

Once again, the increasingly useless “mainstream media” is not interested in pursuing the story, but the Daily Caller was able to obtain “smoking gun” documents:

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.

Apparently the union dropped these demands on November 1… three days after Barry Moline, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, lodged a complaint with a national trade group.  Moline confirmed that people in the storm-ravaged area suffered because of this delay:

???We had crews ready to go on Monday when the storm hit,??? he told TheDC.  ???We had dozens of line workers ready to go. There have been hundreds of line workers who have been told, ???We don???t want you unless you???re part of the union.??? And as a result, people in New York and New Jersey are having the power turned on slower than everywhere else.???

???The word we were getting all week was that New York was short by hundreds of [electric] linemen,??? he told TheDC. ???Well, okay. We???ve got them. Florida is two days away, so you need a head start.???

Of those workers who were ready to drive north, he said, ???probably about 25 stayed put??? because of the Long Island IBEW local???s demands. ???Another 35 were delayed by five days.???

The initial report of Alabama power crews being denied access to union-protected areas hit by Sandy were disputed by local officials, but there’s still at least as much eyewitness testimony in support of the story as against it… and then there’s the very similar experience of a Georgia power company, also reported by the Daily Caller:

???We???re not a large utility, so we were only able to send up two or three crews,??? Glenn Cunningham, a business continuity coordinator with Diverse Power in LaGrange, Georgia, said in a phone interview.

???They worked in Maryland, and they went up to New York, and when they got up there it was, ???out come the union papers.??????

???And our guys were like, ???Hey, we???re not joining nothing. We came up to help, but if you don???t want it, that???s fine.??? So they turned around and drove all the way back here to Georgia.???

So does anyone really think these crews from right-to-work states are burning up gas and overtime, driving expensive equipment to New York and back, just so they can make up nasty stories about union thuggery?  It’s especially tough to buy that after seeing documentary evidence of the IBEW’s demands.

This is important not only for what it says about the unions in question, but also because it’s another aspect of President Obama’s lackluster crisis management.  He promised to cut through all the “red tape” to get help to disaster areas ASAP, but officials at every level contacted about these union antics either profess ignorance of the story, or refuse to comment upon it.  Barack Obama is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Labor; he should have known this sort of thing was coming, and used his Rolodex full of union bosses to prevent it.