The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy has prompted many to volunteer their time to help others.
Mike James and three other drivers from Michigan donated their trucks, time and money to help get electricity back to the millions still living without it.
The drivers hauled 144 transformers to New York City on Tuesday, however, when they attempted to deliver the transformers on Wednesday, James says Con Edison employees turned the drivers and the transformers away because the drivers are not union members.
“These transformers here, I don’t know how many lines they would power or how many homes they would power, but just the fact that they were supposed to be going to help people, and these union guys care more about protecting their turf — I got a very sour taste in my mouth about New York City people,” James told the Press & Guide.
James told the Press & Guide that not only were they turned away, they also witnessed other groups being turned away, as well.
“Utility crews came up from Alabama,” James told the Press & Guide.
“They called them scabs and sent them home. They said those people from Alabama were taking food out of their families’ mouths.”
James says he stayed in New York a little longer, hoping Con Edison would change its mind before eventually giving up and heading back to Michigan.
In all, James lost more than his faith in the employees of Con Edison, he also spent $1,400 of his own money on fuel and missed out on other loads.
“Decatur Utilities General Manager Ray Hardin appeared onFox Business Channel Friday morning saying, “We were presented documents from IBEW that required our folks to affiliate with the unions and that was something we could not agree to,” WAFF News reported.
“Decatur Utilities later released a statement expanding on that, ‘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.'”
Union representatives deny any workers were turned away.
“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. We have communicated this to the office of New Jersey Governor Christie as well,” the IBEW 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.”
Drivers, have any of you delivered relief supplies? Have you ever been turned away?