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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.

JOE November 09, 2012 at 04:57 AM
I have just been informed that there is going to be a massive rally on Monday in front of the LIPA offices on Old Country Road in Hicksville at 10 am. If anyone knows where to get the inflatable rat that you see at protests, We need that for Monday
Pat November 09, 2012 at 08:33 PM
My elderly parents got their power back on after 7 days, LIPA left a wire hanging low from their house to the pole, aqpprox. 30 feet long, if you are under 5'ft tall, you can walk under it, if not I guess you get electrocuted When they called about the line, the rep was extremely rude, said "call back another time we dont have time for that now"!! God help them if anyone gets hurt or killed by that wire. No, No, No ..... accolades for the rude reps!
Karla Allegro November 11, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Thank God for the out of state workers who worked very hard to restore power my street. We will be forever thankful. To think that these hard workers are sleeping in their trucks! Shame on Nassau County! I wonder if this happens again will these men bother coming to help us! We are grateful...
Walter Noller November 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Only 300 call reps. for how many hundreds of thousands of customers? This alone shows how ill prepared and incompetent the company is. Set up addition temporary call centers (this would take mere hours to do), hire temps to take calls and get managers to take calls. A busy signal is never an option for something so important as the basic need of electricity. Poor preventative maintenence of outside plant exascerbated the problem. Company reps. sent not knowing what the hell they're doing caused inefficient and multiple responses and visits and caused days of delay. LIPA needs to go and government owes the tax payers of Long Island a utility that can actually do their job. Electricity isn't just another consumer option. Lives depend on it as everything is somehow tethered to it and depends on it to work. LIPA's latest " We're gonna look and see what went went wrong, after this is over" tells how poor a job they do..They admit it. Time for them to go.
Walter Noller November 12, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Blame LIPA for their ineffective response, but it's at the leadership level, not those on the front line. They take orders from morons who redefine incompetence. Those who have encountered outside contractors who did a great job need to contact these companies and say thank you. I just sent an email to State Electric, http://www.stateelectriccorp.com thanking them for a great crew of professionals that did a wonderful job in our area. I say this based on a dozen years as a splicer having to deal with both the damage and, sometimes, poor management. Seperate the bad (LIPA management) from those who work, in spite of poor leadership and send appreciation to the companies who came and helped us get back on line.

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