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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.
fschenu November 07, 2012 at 05:34 PM
This may all be true but LIPA has failed to give any reliable info as to restoral times after 9 days the response is we are working hard. The maps and info on the website are not accurate and now LIPA has changed the call center so you cannot get thru to a live person at all. It would be nice if there was any response to the trouble tickets opened with call back numbers.
Howard Zryb November 07, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Information, please.... we have been getting none! I understand there was a serious disruption, and I appreciate the difficulty in restoring the grid... but c'mon... I have seen NO LIPA trucks in South Merrick, They were supposed to inspect our boxes today (meaning that someone had to stay home in the cold). This did not happen. There are a lot of rumors floating around, and this does not help. Our elected officials has not done anything.... LIPA has been woefully unprepared. It wouldn't hurt to provide some information to us. We pay some of the highest electrical rates in the country, and some of the highest taxes in NY. How about some attention?
Bill Pezzulo November 08, 2012 at 08:23 AM
LIPA (not National Grid) is a disgraceful organization, filled with incompetency and out-and-out liars. The power restoration priority list is a complete fabrication. If it even does exist, the LIPA employees have proven themselves incapable of following it. Perhaps now, the Governor will do what he failed to do, after T.S. Irene. SHUT IT DOWN !!!!
Tina November 08, 2012 at 08:26 AM
The call center is useless....tried endlessly last night and this morning to report a dangerous downed wire that is tangled around a number of other wires and lying across the street. If any type of vehicle comes down the road they will hit it and take everything else down. The recording just says due to high call volume try again later and then it disconnects. Finally on my most recent attempt I haven't been disconnected but I am on hold, so far, for 35 minutes.

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