Officials from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers presented Alabama-based Decatur Utilities with documents that “required our folks to affiliate with the union,” Ray Hardin, general manager of Decatur. “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.”
Hardin said most of his six-man, four-vehicle crew was stuck in Virginia on Thursday instead of helping the N.J. shore town of Seaside Heights recover due to the bureaucratic tie-up. Eventually his crew ended up heading back home to Alabama because of the disagreement.
“We chose not agree to those documents and began looking for other areas that could use our assistance without those conditions,” Hardin said.
Ed Hill, international president of the IBEW, said in an emailed statement: "It is the policy of this union and the companies we represent to welcome assistance during major natural disasters -- regardless of union status."
Decatur said in a separate statement following Hardin's comments that its crews were held in place in Virginia pending clarification of documents received from the IBEW that "implied a requirement of our employees to agree to union affiliation while working in the" New York and N.J. areas."
This sort of obstructionism is completely unacceptable in the current circumstances or any disaster.