NJ Power Outage Lasts 30 Hours Amid Heated AC Electric Strike
WINSLOW — A development in Sicklerville had no power for more than a day and the power company claims its unruly striking workers are to blame.
Homes at the Lehigh Manor Estates lost power on Nov. 5 around 10 a.m., Atlantic City Electric spokesman Frank Tedesco said. Around 70 customers were affected.
The outage lasted for over 30 hours and began the same day IBEW Local 210 went on strike, union Business Administrator Zach Story said.
The reason it took so long to restore power depends on who is being asked.
The electric company said striking union members blocked contractors from accessing the site. Then when the contractors were able to access the job site, they were "verbally abused" by the union members, according to Tedesco.
Those contractors then had to leave temporarily because it was unsafe, Tedesco said. He also said security teams for the power company have responded to more than 60 incidents involving union members acting in ways that were "unsafe" or "aggressive."
The union members were heckling contractor crews, following them to other job sites, making obscene comments, and vandalizing equipment, according to Tedesco.
"We continue to respond to any customer needs and electric emergencies as they occur, despite attempts by some Union members to delay response or block access to job sites," Tedesco said.
Union says AC Electric claims are bogus
When asked about the incident, Story said that AC Electric's claims about union members blocking access were "absolutely" not true.
"Unfortunately the out-of-state contractors they have hired have little to no experience in buried distribution or overhead electric work. Union members on strike were not blocking any kind of access. The customers are unfortunately paying the price of their incompetence," Story said.
AC Electric's claims about aggressive striking workers were also untrue, according to a statement from Local 210. The union said its members have only been peaceful on the picket line.
What's real in the Atlantic City Electric strike?
Disputes between AC Electric and Local 210 about what's really going on in the strike have been ongoing since the strike began on Nov. 5. Similar differences in narratives have been seen in the ongoing nurses strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, which passed its 100-day mark on Saturday.
One rumor circulating in the electrical workers strike was that the Board of Public Utilities had seen a major increase in AC Electric complaints since the strike began, according to Story.
The opposite is true, BPU spokesperson Peter Peretzman said. He said in the nine days before the strike there were 43 complaints against the power company; in the nine days after the strike began, they recorded only 24 complaints.
"Until an agreement is reached we will continue to monitor restoration times and system safety. We will address any complaints and concerns brought to us as quickly as possible," said Peretzman.
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