At the beginning of this month, an array of news outlets reported about how the forced-unionism demands of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW/AFL-CIO) were impeding efforts in New York and New Jersey to prepare a response to expected massive power outages as Hurricane Sandy was headed toward the Northeastern United States.
According to the reports, New York and New Jersey IBEW bosses were seeking a forced-dues windfall from Sandy and refusing to allow out-of-state utility employees to help reconnect power for tens of millions of households and businesses unless they first got what they wanted.
The IBEW hierarchy, other union kingpins, and many Big Labor apologists immediately responded to such allegations with vociferous denials. And just this week, an IBEW press release complained that “many people have been led to believe that the IBEW turned away nonunion workers from assisting in the restoration work and sought to force the to join the union.” This is “absolutely false,” claims the press release.
Big Labor denials that it had sought to profiteer from Hurricane Sandy at the expense of families and businesses with power outages as well as electrical workers who prefer to remain union-free got harder to credit on November 3, when The Daily Caller published a “letter of assent” sent to Florida electric utilities in late October.
By signing this letter, utilities would have agreed to collect forced IBEW membership dues from their employes and to “pay fixed percentages of every worker’s hourly wage into seven separate union controlled-funds, including a $9.75 per work-hour payment into the IBEW’s health care plan and 22.5 cents for every dollar of salary into its pension fund.” (See the first link above for more information.)
As The Daily Caller explained, dozens of Florida line workers who had been planning to arrive in New York just before Sandy hit in order to help speed power restoration were delayed by five days, or never came at all, because of their and their employers’ concerns about the “letter of assent.”
When they were first confronted by The Daily Caller with the forced unionism-imposing letter, international officers of the IBEW in Washington, D.C., insisted: “The IBEW did not send the documents, nor did any of our locals.”
But as of November 13 this denial is no longer operative. In an evasively worded press release issued that day, the IBEW hierarchy acknowledged: “Some correspondence was sent, prior to the time Sandy hit landfall, by one of the IBEW locals in New York to small utilities that were contacted by the Long Island Power Authority at the urging of the New York Power Authority for assistance.” (See the second link above.)
In plain English, this is an admission that, as The Daily Caller had previously reported and international IBEW bosses had previously denied, it was officers of Local 1049 of the IBEW who sent multiple out-of-state utilities the “letter of assent” demanding forced union dues and forced payments into union benefit funds as a condition of participating in Sandy recovery efforts.
Bad publicity has apparently caused IBEW operatives to back away, at least for the time being, from their unseemly scheme to reap a forced-unionism windfall from Hurricane Sandy. But there is nothing in the public record that suggests IBEW bosses have anything against such exploitation in principle. And this shouldn’t be surprising. The special coercive privileges granted to union bosses under federal law tend to encourage unscrupulous, ruthless people to enter into union politics. No one should be shocked when union officials act in character.