Non-Union Help Not Rejected After Storm: Utility Co.
A New Jersey utility company is shooting down a wave of rumors that union crews working for PSE&G are refusing to work with non-union contractors and workers from other states in the wake of Super Storm Sandy.
Over the last few days, a flood of accusations have mounted that the slower-than-hoped-for restoration of power after the storm was in part due to union crews refusing to cooperate with non-union workers.
A statement sent to CNBC by PSE&G Monday afternoon said, "We have not turned any mutual crews away. We're taking any qualified help we can possibly get. Everyday we're getting more and more help from out of state."
Chip Gerrity is the president and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW Local 94. He vowed no non-union crews are being turned away.
"In a normal situation, the union workers would prefer to work with other union workers. But in this case and other emergencies, we'll take anyone we can get. We've never had outages like this and we'll take what we can get," Gerrity said. (Read More: Cleanup, Gas Rationing Continue in NJ After Storm.)
He added, "Union workers often have a level of safety training other union teams are comfortable with. But right now, we're happy to have all the help we can have."
PSE&G said before the storm even hit, plans were already well underway to move crews into New Jersey from other states.
"They are often put up in hotels that have no power," Gerrity said. "They restore the power in those areas and then move on from there."
According to PSE&G's website, "Restoration plans are designed to get power back on to the most people in the shortest time. … Hospitals, police departments, fire stations and other public health and safety facilities are priority number one." (Read More: When Will Power Return in New Jersey?)
Since the storm subsided on Wednesday, workers have come to New Jersey from Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia and Canada to help with the effort.
More than 100 additional workers are also en route from West Virginia to help clear downed trees and to rebuild New Jersey's damaged electric grid.
PSE&G said that overall more than 3,000 outside workers are in New Jersey helping to trim trees, clear debris and restore power.
The utility company said 439,000 customers are currently without power. At the worst point, PSE&G reported 1.7 million of its customers were in the dark. According to First Lady Mary Pat Christie, the governor's home is also still without electricity. (Read More: Scenes From Super Storm Sandy.)
The New Jersey counties closest to New York City were especially hard hit by falling trees. Tens of thousands are still without power in Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union counties.
Customers on Long Island have also made similar accusations about non-union crews being turned away.
The Long Island Power Authority serving Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties did not return calls or emails regarding those accusations. About 285,000 of LIPA's customers are still without power.
—By CNBC's Jason Gewirtz