IBEW Local 1289 union leaders are calling on Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) to immediately halt any disciplinary action it is planning to take against over 130 union members who were never put on call or called into duty by the utility giant during a late December storm that knocked out power to thousands in 20 municipalities throughout the state.
The union workers, mainly field employees but also some who hold clerical positions, are being “scapegoated”by the utility, which failed to plan for the storm and experienced a communication breakdown to the public and union employees, according to IBEW Local 1289 President and Business Manager Jeff Ecklof.
“We are calling on JCP&L to immediately cease and desist from any disciplinary action and do better in terms of storm preparation and communication,” Ecklof said. “This is an outrageous attempt to target union members for management’s failure to plan for and execute a proper response to the storm. The employees facing disciplinary action were never put on call, or even called to work during the emergency. How in the world is it fair to hold them responsible for something that management clearly neglected to do? Instead of seeking scapegoats, JCP&L should conduct an internal investigation examining its management decisions and how the chain of notifications and communication broke down to both its customers and our workers.”
IBEW Local 1289 Assistant Business Manager Jeff Munyan also noted that JCP&L failed to man its Emergency Response Preparation Center both before and during the storm, and added that certain union members worked 100 hours that week, despite not being asked to stay.
“JCP&L should adjust and allocate its shifts in preparation for storms and better communicate with union members before, during, and after storms,” Munyan said.
JCP&L sent an unsigned, anonymous notice that was not even issued on JCP&L letterhead to the union employees, dated January 3, 2023 notifying them of potential disciplinary action. The notice stated:
“As you are aware, there was a mandatory storm rotation which went into effect on December 23, 2022 and remained in effect through December 27, 2022, for all personnel that were engaged in their storm roles.Unfortunately, you may have failed to meet your obligations. You will be notified of the date, time and location of the fact-finding meeting. Union leadership has been notified as well. If you have any questions, please contact your supervisor.”
Union employees who were targeted work at JCP&L facilities in the municipalities of Berkeley, Boonton, Cookstown, Dover, East Hanover, Farmingdale, Freehold, Holmdel, Hopatcong, Lakewood, Morristown,Newton, Old Bridge, Philipsburg, Point Pleasant, Summit, Toms River, Union Beach, Wall and Wharton. The municipalities are spread out over a total of eight counties in the central, southern and western portions of the state, including Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Sussex, Union and Warren.
IBEW 1289 represents approximately 1,400 members in the utility industry throughoutNew Jersey. Our members include line workers, substation electricians, meter readers, automobile and truck mechanics, clerks, layout technicians, customer service representatives, and a variety of other workers who perform critical utility work throughout the state.
As part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1289 prides itself on its members. We advocate for them ensuring safe working conditions, fair wages, and worker rights and responsibilities. Our organization’s backbone is our past members, our current ones, and those who will join in the future and their families.
Our core values of safety, professionalism, accountability, relationships, and quality of work are the foundation of our union. Our leaders and members represent these values in everything we do, which sets us apart.