Hauppauge At their Union Hall, the leadership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049, led by Business Manager Don Daley held a town hall style Q&A with key elected officials and representatives from the State, County and Town government to explain in detail staffing and management issues with the future LIPA operating services agreement (OSA) which essentially splits up the storm restoration workforce. Over 60 people attended the meeting with community leaders and ratepayer advocates.
An informative power point outlined hard truths that the current LIPA model keeps all the electric and gas utility workers available for storm response. When a storm hits, National Grid utilizes all employees in the restoration effort. A gas mechanic who traditionally works on the gas pipeline is also trained and qualified to install residential electric lines during emergency response. Daley’s presentation showed exactly how gas and electric ratepayers benefit from daily workforce synergies and how many Long Island workers will be staying home in the next storm.
“We have been communicating our concerns with this OSA for 15 months now, even before Hurricane Sandy hit us”, said Daley. “There will be less people who are cross trained to respond during storm restoration when the next major storm hits, whether that storm is big or small. The future plan will even make small storm response difficult and expensive for the ratepayer. We will have to rely on off-island out of state utility crews.”
A point was raised by a community activist that PSEG, the new owner of the OSA, should be required to increase staffing levels to meet storm restoration needs. Daley responded to the question by stating that if PSEG was required to increase staffing levels, that would be one way to address the dangers of being understaffed during the next storm response , but that it may not make economic sense.
Graphs during the presentation showed that the future OSA will essentially split the workforce in half. One graph showed that in the next storm, over 1,800 trained utility professionals will be staying back. The presentation also explained in detail how synergy savings work in departments like human resources, billing and collections. The new OSA will essentially split up the workforce, creating unnecessary overhead which will be passed onto the already overburdened ratepayer.
Business Manager Don Daley added that “Local 1049 urges that there be no rush to judgment on supporting any plan, whether it be privatization, making LIPA a full municipality, or a public-private partnership. This decision had implications for the provision of essential utility services to millions of customers. Our Long Island neighbors depend on this essential service to provide safety and comfort. We consider this to be the highest priority and IBEW 1049 needs to be at the table.”