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

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

Credit: LIPA
Credit: LIPA
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.
KR76 November 07, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Wow, really? Thanks for doing your job. So dangerous and such a sacrifice for 10 days. Union leaders, politicians and everyone else patting each other on the back and blowing harder than the storm itself.
Cliff November 07, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Cant put all the blame the people in the call centers or out on the streets. Its the hopeless mismanagement by LIPAs real acronym: Losers In Professional Attire" that still see over 4000 houses in Levittown 10 days later with not even a clue as to when power will be back.
GRW November 07, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Great, i wonder how much our rates are going to up now b/c of this like they did after last years storm. how come every time i called i never got a person, only an automated machine that let me notify them i was out.
KR76 November 07, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Definitely no blame on any of the hard working linemen and call center reps. But for the hard working, bill paying public without power it is counter-productive to extol the virtues of the fine men and women of the Long Island Power Authority while people dependent upon their skills and "coordinated efforts" (HA!) are still suffering in the cold and dark.
Joel Bearman November 08, 2012 at 12:05 PM
still have not seen a single utility truck in my area of Levittown, behind Friendley's. The word is crews were turned away from other states because they aren't "Union" you got to be kidding me, life come first!


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