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The ball is in his court

The Utility Worker Assault bill just needs a signature to become law in the Empire State

Kris LaGrange's picture
Aug 10, 2016

In New Jersey its law. It's also on the books in Missouri, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. After a four year effort, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have successfully passed legislation in both houses that would make assaulting a utility company employee a class D felony. Some people are flat out nuts; ask any meter reader, linemen or collections personnel who work in this industry - violence happens. Anything from hay-makers to armed robbery to murder. Having done a ride along with UWUA 601, the union that represents employees doing collections in some of New Jersey's roughest neighborhoods, I can tell you that a law like this is needed and its been a longtime coming. In Rochester, their utility company hired a security outfit to "observe and report" any acts of violence against their bill collectors, but that doesn't really make the members of IBEW Local 36 feel any safer. So as we speak, utility union leaders all across New York are mailing in letters to Governor Cuomo, urging him to sign this law. I just had my natural gas cut off for non-payment so maybe we can get Governor Cuomo to do the ceremonial signing of this much needed bill at my home when National Grid comes to turn me back on.  Don't worry guys and gals over at IBEW Local 1049, I promise to keep my German Shepard on his chain when you come to read the meter. 

Below are some excerpts from a letter that IBEW leaders from across New York State are sending to Governor Andrew Cuomo to urge him to sign the Utility Worker Assault Bill.  Also click here to watch IBEW Local 1049's Patrick Guidice speak on this issue which will air on Capital Tonight's August 10, 2016 evening broadcast.

Dear Governor Cuomo:

It has been brought to our attention that S. 2251-A/ A. 4738-A, which elevates assault of a utility worker in the second degree to a class D felony, was delivered to you on August 8, 2016.

As you know utility workers perform vital services and are with increasing frequency, the victims of assault and aggression. In particular, representatives who read meters or are involved in collections are vulnerable to crime. Often they must enter a premises alone to conduct their work in circumstances that are potentially hostile.. These workers have been threatened, attacked, molested, and in some cases robbed simply for doing their job. It is currently a felony to cause injury to peace officers, police officers, firefighters or emergency medical workers with the intent to prevent them from performing their duties. In light of utility workers ever demanding levels of responsibility particularly in storm restoration or as emergency responders this bill is necessary.

The legislatures of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania understand the issues surrounding occupational assault and currently have laws protecting utility employees.

On behalf of the 15,000 members of the IBEW Utility Labor Council of New York State we urge you to sign this bill to curtail any future acts of aggression against utility workers.

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