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Union enforcement during Hurricane recovery raises questions

November 16, 2012

by Sheryll Poe, Free Enterprise
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Power company workers from Decatur Utilities drove hours from Alabama to lend a hand in New Jersey restoring electricity to the thousands who desperately needed it, only to be told by the local power company workers union they were not welcome unless they signed a union agreement.

Officials from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers presented the six-man, four-vehicle volunteer crew with documents that “required our folks to affiliate with the union,” Ray Hardin, general manager of Decatur, told FOX Business. “That was something that we could not agree to. It was our understanding and still is that it was a requirement for us to work in that area.”

The crew attempted to look for work in other areas but because a resolution could not be reached, they made the decision late Thursday night to return home.

IBEW officials denied that any of their locals would ever do such a thing, but The Daily Caller has obtained a two-page Oct. 29 contract sent by the IBEW local 1049 to Florida electric utilities before its workers would be permitted to help reconnect power to Long Island communities. The “Letter of Assent” demanded 11 separate financial commitments, including union dues and benefit contributions from the Florida utility companies.

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