Union Above Public Welfare

The Daily Caller, in a weekend article, reported [emphasis added]

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.

That…contract…was sent to Florida’s nonunion power companies; it can be found at the above link and here.  Below are some of the eleven different financial “demands” the local required as a precondition to allowing these volunteer, and non-union, workers to help the Long Islanders devastated by Sandy.  Never mind the welfare of those residents.  They’re just useful hostages for the collection of the union’s vig.

  • UTILITY shall contribute 22 ½ % of each employee’s gross salary into the “IBEW Local 1049 Craft Annuity Fund”
  • UTILITY shall contribute 3% of each employee’s gross salary into the “IBEW Local 1049 Craft Division Skill Improvement Fund”
  • UTILITY shall contribute 3% of each employee’s gross salary to the local collection agent for the “National Electrical Benefit Fund”
  • UTILITY shall contribute 0.5% of each employee’s gross salary to the “National Electrical Industry Fund.”
  • UTILITY shall contribute 1% of each employee’s gross salary to the “Northeastern Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust.”

Notice that—just these money grabs alone would have forced the UTILITY(s) to pay into union coffers nearly 30% of these volunteers’ (post-raise) pay, beyond that pay itself.  Taking into account all the money demands,

TheDC calculated that for a nonunion crew foreman normally earning $40 per hour in Florida, the mandated higher wages [also demanded in the “contract”] plus union contributions and dues would force a utility to pay $67.74 per hour for each worker completing power restoration tasks in New York.

For work performed on weekends or after 4:00 pm on weekdays, that overall rate would jump to $70.38.

All so these Florida volunteers could have the privilege of being Good Samaritans and trying to help out fellow Americans in their hour of need.

Florida Municipal Electric Association Executive Director Brent Moline said

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

No thanks, said the IBEW.  Only union workers are needed.

Moline added,

[I]t was only in New York where the union had to give their blessing.  It just made me sick that you’ve got people who have no power and you hear about a lot of people dying.

Finally, one of thirteen clauses in the “contract” specified its overall period of effect—29 Oct to 29 Nov.  Eleven of the clauses dealt with money for the union.  There wasn’t even anything in document about work conditions, worker safety, and so on.  Just that money for the union.

Only after the hue and cry did the union say it had withdrawn the demand letter.

Isn’t this display of union greed, using the citizens of Long Island as hostages for the collection, reason enough to pass a right to work law in New York?  Governor Cuomo (D)?  President of the Senate Duffy (D)?  Speaker of the Assembly Silver (D)?

As and aside, if this is what the IBEW charges its local UTILITYs, no wonder LIPA’s electricity rates are so high (the lowest non-Household Assistance rate Long Islanders pay—water and home heating by other means than electricity and assuming no more than 250 KWh of use in a month—is 51.9¢/KWh, which compares with 10¢/KWh where I live in northern Texas—and I heat, and air condition, my home with electricity, for which LIPA would charge a higher price).

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