Utility workers from across the US are descending on the Northeastern states left ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, but some volunteers making the trek are being told they can’t pitch in since they don’t belong to a union.
According to a report published late Thursday by WAFF News out of Seaside Heights, crews coming to assist all the way from Alabama’s Decatur Utilities were turned away because they aren’t unionized, despite making the 800-mile jaunt to lend a hand.
WAFF quotes Decatur worker Derrick Moore, who tells the network that he and his colleagues “are frustrated being told, in essence, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’”
Left with nothing to do in New Jersey, Moore and other members of the Decatur team are reportedly waiting in Roanaoke, Virginia to see if Seaside Heights authorities will change their mind. Meanwhile, though, millions of residents up and down the East Coast remain without power after a powerful tropical storm downed power lines and flooded streets from North Carolina to New England.
According to the latest figures available early Friday, the death toll from the frankenstorm may already be close to hitting 100, and recovery efforts are expected to continue for weeks, if not months. At the same time, though, things may be off to a slower start in New Jersey if nonunionized volunteers are refused any further.
Bill Yell, a spokesman for Alabama’s Huntsville Utilities, tells AL.com that nine of his employees are currently helping with recovery from the storm, but not in New Jersey where he claims they were told they weren’t needed. Instead, his crew of unionized workers has been volunteering their services with Long Island Power Authority in New York.
According to ABC News, more than 40,000 workers from utility companies across 49 states have been dispatched to the East Coast to aid in recovery efforts, with the US Air Force now assisting by moving dozens of utility vehicles onboard cargo planes.
On Thursday, forecasting firm Eqecat estimated the damage from the storm to be close to $50 billion.