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OP-ED: LIPA Call Center Reps on Storm’s Front Line

Union leader discusses the effort by reps in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to Patch by Donald Daley, Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1049 in Hauppauge.

It’s been a very long 10 days for the 300 service representatives at LIPA’s Customer Call Center in Melville.  If ever there was an example of a 24/7 team effort under very demanding conditions, this is surely it.

Working 16-hour days, every day since Hurricane Sandy struck, these representatives have answered over one million customer calls.  The commitment of these hard-working men and women to their customers and their fellow workers has been outstanding. It is a commitment that we take very seriously and pride ourselves in this tradition.

The call center in Melville is the main contact point between the public and LIPA. During Hurricane Sandy, call volume has spiked from the normal 10,000 daily calls to as much as 130,000 emergency calls. As you might imagine, customers living without power for more than a week have strong feelings and the experience for call center workers has been physically and emotionally challenging. The call center workers know that the service they help to provide gives comfort and security to the public and will not stop until everyone’s service is restored.

These reps are themselves Long Islanders who truly feel the pain of their neighbors. Many are moms, who for more than a week have left their kids for all but a few hours daily, then rushed back to another 16-hour shift.  Like the callers they help, these workers are Long Islanders and many have also been without power and have been flooded.

The call center professionals are part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1049, whose members include about 3300 workers putting in similarly long days on the street getting power back on.  Whether our IBEW members work for National Grid in power generation or gas operations, directly for LIPA in the call center or the transmission and distribution area, or for a shared organization, these professionals always pull together and coordinate their efforts to help in a time of need.

It’s true that every Long Islander has had to sacrifice because of Hurricane Sandy. But few have given as much as the hard-working, dedicated electrical workers who are helping to get power restored to their neighbors.
Jack O'Niel November 08, 2012 at 10:34 AM
You guys might be working hard but the mgt and resources allocation sucks.
Linda Wangner November 08, 2012 at 03:49 PM
The people who man the trucks are now and always work to help us maintain the quality of life we are accustomed, thanks to the availability of electricity. The problem lies in the assessment forms that these crews hand in to their superiors that have been ignored for years. The dissolving of the tree cutting unit and the cut back to address the jobs that the Work Crews have assessed, has led to an incredible weaking of the infrastructure . LIPA has been caught with their pants down and the door open. Certain issues would still be issues. Cutting foliage and trees away from the wires, A public service message to the residents to be responsible if they have trees in their yard to trim and if necessary remove them if they are becoming a problem. If they took these steps, it might have cut down the percentage of crisis situations. Getting a double hit with the two storms might make for an excuse. It also shows that if the same neighborhood is out again, as mine..... there are more issues that the obvious. WE pay our bills on time. There is an expectancy of services. That is not the case. Some might consider this to be theft of services. Thank you.

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