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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  Editorials    >    Cold, Wet, and Hungry


Police and
Law Enforcement News


Friday, January 21, 2005  10:20 p.m.

As police officers, no matter how much we would like, we may never honor a picket line. Most understand that the nature of our job prohibits this.

In the fall of 2004, the Democratic National Convention was to be held in Boston, Massachusetts.

At the same time, Boston police were neck deep in a nasty contract dispute with the city. The officers’ union brought their masses to the sidewalks in front of the Fleet Center during the preparations for the convention to bring more attention to their plight.  A surprising and unexpected result occurred.


Most of the unions involved in the construction inside the arena refused to cross the picket line of blue.

Think about that.

As law officers, we will never, ever, be able to return this gesture, but these guys did it anyway.

As if that wasn't enough, many of the electricians, teamsters, carpenters, firefighters, and other service personnel actually dropped their tools and joined the picket line. 


Maybe it’s just me, but I was blown away by such stand-up solidarity.

Fast forward to today.

Surrounding a 55-gallon, drum-sized garbage can with flames peaking out, morale remains as high as it could be for a group clothed in layers to fight the January sting. The stack of firewood next to them, almost two cords, is an unfortunate sign that they expect to be there for the long haul.

“They” are the members of five local unions that comprise the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW, representing linemen, technicians, clerks, mechanics, operators, and other employees of JCP&L, and they are on strike.

The issue?  What else, health benefits.

“[The company] insists it is necessary to raise the cost of health care for future retirees by 400 percent, and possibly to 2,500 percent, before eliminating retiree health care coverage completely” according to one account.

Bottom line, these men and women are now without a paycheck and have been for six weeks.

At best, their Christmases were seriously diminished and New Years Eve was spent at home.

Macaroni and cheese, soup, pasta, and baloney have certainly become more prevalent on their grocery lists, and the heat is turned down a few more degrees each evening.

Once again, this war has been waged against the little guy.

The parent-company of JCP&L, FirstEnergy, apparently needs to reduce overhead.

After all, according to their website, “Total revenues for the third quarter of 2004 were $3.5 billion, up from $3.4 billion in 2003.” 

Oh, and their late CEO made 4,052,399.00 in 2003.

We could go on with stats and figures, but you know the drill.

Today, some 1,350 JCP&L workers take turns manning the various strike locations, most of which run 24 hours a day. Some of them work extra strike duty for a wage less than what most high school students make at their part-time jobs.

The have no choice. They need the money.

Others have, with their union’s blessing, temporarily migrated to other parts of the country for work.  Kids need to eat.

In Ohio and Pennsylvania, even more employees of this "company" are preparing for a possible strike for the same reason.

As law officers, we will never know the uncertainness and terror of being on strike. Statute forbids law enforcement officers from striking.

One of the JCP&L strike locations is in our town.  We pass them at the beginning of each shift when in route to our secret coffee spot. After we get the patrol cars all lined up next to each other, the conversation usually begins, “Did you see those guys on the way up?”

Last month, after talking of their situation one night, our squad all chipped in and bought them dinner. The next day a Christmas wreath was delivered to our headquarters.  Guess who sent it.

I don’t know where we’re really going with this editorial.  I initially began writing it about three weeks ago after seeing these guys standing in the cold every day.

Okay, how about this.

Next time you pass one of these strike zones, sneak a wave. 

Give a quick flash of your emergency rights, hit them with your spot light, or pop your air horn. 

Their brothers in Boston honored our brothers in Boston. It’s the least we can do for them.

In the coming months, things are going to get a lot harder for these men and women. Most planned financially for the strike, but, really, how long you go without work?  If the strike does continue, they are going to experience repossessions, foreclosures and other similar fates within their ranks.

Our PBA and FOP locals do a lot of good across the state for numerous worthy causes.

I can’t think of too many more important causes than helping unemployed working men and women and their families during times terrifying to them. Even just a couple of pizzas would help their morale and put something positive in their lives.

Bring it up and your next monthly meeting, and if you can do more, by all means, do so.  Please share your thoughts below.


Reader Comments

January 31, 2005

"Thank you" is the most insufficient of expressions for the type of support you've given.

          -Wes and Linda Opdyke
          -Berkeley Line Dept.


January 31, 2005

Great write up, thanks for the support of our Brothers in this time of need. Soon to face the same fate with Pepco Holdings Inc. in Delaware.  I'm sure, and hope we get the kind of support that you have shown here.

          -Proud Member IBEW Local Union 1238


January 31, 2005

Thanks for all your support. It is truly appreciated by all the men and women of JCP&L IBEW members. Thanks again for your kind words.



January 26, 2005

Most of us realize what is at stake, but it is heartwarming to know others appreciate and respect our stance. The Working Class should be the heart and soul of this country. Unity and Brotherhood are very important-Thank you for yours.

          -Kathi and Chris Dundon
          -IBEW Local 1289
          -Berkeley Line Dept.


January 26, 2005

I am a lineman on strike and just wanted to thank you for your thoughts and words.

          -Bill Perry
          -Jackson, New Jersey


January 26, 2005

Thank you so much for this editorial.  Both my father (30+ years) and my brother are walking the picket line against JCP&L. They need all the support they can get, so do as the article says, beep, flash those lights, yell encouragement, stop by with some donuts, anything.  As a fellow union member (CWA), I have also been there. 

Thanks again for the article. 



January 26, 2005

An awesome article without a doubt.

It hits home and has all the weight in the world.  We just have to offer and make small contributions.



January 25, 2005

Thank you for your kind words and much needed support.  I am going to print your editorial and bring it with me to the Flemington picket line.  We notice and appreciate the kind gestures given to us!

First Energy has tried to break us with their arrogance and greed.  I am proud to be part of a union that has the courage to fight back!

Thanks, again, for your kind words of support!



January 25, 2005

Thank you for your kind words and support!  I will print your editorial and bring it with me to the Flemington picket line for all to read.  Many thanks to the men and women in the Police Departments.  We do notice your gestures of support as you drive by and it is much appreciated.

First Energy top management doesn't get the concept of respect and kindness to each other, to those that work for them, or to the community.  How very sad.  It will be their never ending greed that eventually (with all this exposure - hopefully soon) brings them down.



January 25, 2005

I cannot find the right words to express my thanks to you for your support and kindness.  I almost cried reading your message.  My husband has worked for JCP&L for 20 years.  He is now working a job in between his strike duty for a little over minimum wage to put food on the table.  I pray he and all the others still have jobs when this is all over.  Thank you sooooooooooooo much again and please keep all 1350 striking IBEW workers and their families in your prayers.

God Bless You.....

          -Wife of JCP&L employee
          -Local 1289


January 24, 2005

Thank You for your support. Most of our members know or have friends in blue because we are your friends and neighbors and we appreciate the difficulties of your job.  We will continue to fight the fight and will appreciate any assistance you can give us no matter how small even the flashing of lights as you pass helps us to keep our resolve to fight for what we believe to be a serious violation of human dignity and rights. Thank you again.

          -Chubby Wardell


January 24, 2005

I can remember back in 1980, I was a Philadelphia. police officer and Mayor Bill Green was just elected. His first move as mayor was to lay off 200 Police officers the first time in city history) in his feeble attempt to cut the budget he didn't cut his inflated administration).  There was a huge rally around city hall in protest. Hundreds of union workers from the trades and services were in attendance to show support on their own time. I will never forget this. Eventually those Officers were hired back.Thanks in large part to this show of support.

These workers are increasingly being asked to pay more out of their pockets for medical and are competing against the shipping of manufacturing over seas to third world countries like China where workers earn $100. a month for fourteen hour days, six days a week, so greedy companies can pocket all the profits. We need to support these brothers and sisters any way we can. Buy American whenever possible.

          -Dan McNeill
          -NJDOC Senior Corrections Officer


January 24, 2005

Thank you for your much needed support. It's good to know others stand behind us...unlike the ROXBURY FIRE DEPT. who refuse to allow us to keep a 55 gal. drum (with safety lid) lit for warmth. It seems the fire marshal who made us put it out had given a presentation to JCP&L employees previously at the company's request.......Hmmmmmmmmmm.

          -IBEW 327

January 24, 2005

As a member of a local that is currently in not-so-encouraging negotiations with one of the big ones.... I like extra cheese ; ) Don't lower the bar, we are behind you all the way IBEW sisters & brothers..... I don't want to go on welfare in order to afford doctors & medicine


January 24, 2005

Thank you very much, these sentiments keep our spirits up.



January 23, 2005

Thank you for your support and kind words.  As I was reading this I had tears in my eyes.  My husband has worked for JCP&L for 24 years and to see how this company has treated its employees over the past two years is unbelievable. No person should be treated this way - I thought we were a free AMERICA.  Thanks again for your kind words and support it means a lot.  Stay strong!!

          -Wife of a JCP&L employee
          -Local 1303

January 23, 2005

Thanks for the kind words and support.  I'm going to print this out and bring it down to Ridgedale Ave. on Tuesday to show everyone how great you guys really are.



January 23, 2005

Thank you could support us by REFUSING to work non emergency traffic control.  It shuts the job down ...

          -Lakewood IBEW


January 23, 2005

Thanks for the support!!!! you may not realize how much of a positive impact this article had both for myself and my family.

After 21 years of service with JCP&L I'm afraid my career is in great danger.  I'm scared but couldn't be more proud of the stance we have taken so proud to be part of this great union.



January 22, 2005

Thank you.

          -Gary Dobrinsky
          -President IBEW Local 1298
          -Morristown NJ


January 22, 2005

Every kind gesture is appreciated more than you can imagine. Thanks for your support! Sure is cold out there but better than giving in. I had an officer let me slide on a ticket with a company vehicle. He was nice enough to say "We cover his back in storms and he was glad to repay a favor" He told me he appreciated all we did for them and know we all put up with a lot. I told him we would be there for them also! My family is mostly blue. Actually brown.. Pa. State Police.

Made my day.

          -Picketline MGO.
          -Local 1298

January 22, 2005

I am in the local 1289, all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart its not easy I'm 4 months pregnant money is low but my resolve is not and its because of wonderful people who care just like you  so thank you for your wonderful words and kindness.



January 22, 2005

Great article.  When I was younger, and I would drive by a picket line, I used to thing to myself, "why don't they just go back to work?"  This editorial has really made me regret ever thinking those thoughts...

To all of the workers on strike...."keep your heads up...we support you!"



January 22, 2005

Thanks for the supportive words. We are in this for the long haul and we stand strong and united. I am proud to count the men in blue as some of those who have our back, as we battle the greedy corporation. You are welcome to visit our warming barrel anytime.

          -Ed Roncin
          -Local 1289
          -Lakewood Squankum


January 22, 2005

I thank you all most kindly.  Continue to keeps us in your thoughts and prayers especially now.  Striking employees are now faced with out of state workers coming in to turn off our power.  That is courtesy of First Energy.

          -Gratefully yours,
          -Nancy Adams 
          -Local 1309


January 22, 2005

Thanks to everyone in blue for your kind words. Keep up the good work.

          -Rafael Santiago
          -1303 Union Beach Line 


January 22, 2005

Thank You for the support.

One of the biggest problems we have right now is that management is not following the LAW . They are working in excess of 70 hours a week.  CDL requires a rest period of 24 hours off the property. This company thinks they are above the law. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO ENFORCE THE LAW. They are from out of state and I don't think they are keeping logs on hours they work. If YOU could pass this on to other OFFICERS it would be helpful to our cause. They are putting the PUBLIC in harms way, getting behind the wheel without enough rest, driving a 32 ton vehicle. The Public NEEDS to be protected. Thanks Again.

          -JCP&L Lineman
          -Local 1303


January 22, 2005

Thanks for all the support from the different police departments that we see when we are on the Red Bank Line.  I have also walked the picket line in different locations and it is the same response.  It is very sickening to see some of our EX-fellow workers (who have crossed the line) leave at the end of the day laughing as they are waiting for the light to turn.  But it will be myself and my fellow brothers and sisters who will have the last laugh.  After all, there is more of us than there are of them.  It is not easy on any of us or our families but because we are sticking together and staying strong, our fight will be worth it in the end.

I have worked at JCP&L for 27 years and have never witnessed and been a recipient of such disrespect in all my life.        

Again, many thanks to the men and women in the Police Departments.  It is much appreciated to see your support. 

         -Local 1309
         -JCP&L Employee


January 22, p align="left" style="word-spacing: 0; text-indent: 0; margin-left:0; margin-right:0">  

January 22, 2005

Thanks for the support!

Most if not all police departments have been very supportive. It's great to read such an uplifting editorial. If there were more people like you in the world it would be a much better please. We are determined to stand shoulder to shoulder to the end. Morale is good we just had a food bank in Wall Township Local 400 IBEW. Parts of this strike deals with the lack of fair treatment in the work place. These people First Energy have treated people like we were living in the 1920's. Very nasty and deliberate in how the think nothing to fire people for the VERY SMALLEST infraction. But before I get side tracked any further, Thank you!

          -UNION A Better Way of Life!


January 21, 2005

What a well thought-out, truthful written editorial. 

As an ex-JCP&L Co. employee from the 60's, and whose husband has just retired, this situation repels me.  This was a great company to work for, when it was JCP&LCo & NJP&LCo.  A company that took care of their employees who came first above all!  There was no gluttony or greed then. .. My husband kept telling me about First Energy and I could not comprehend all the repulsive ways that they treated their own people, their employees.  For example, the lineman with the child receiving chemo, who had to leave the hospital to go in on a call-out, or he would be suspended; the lineman who was out of state at his grandmother's funeral, who had to drive right back home for a call-out or he would be suspended; my husband who was hurt on the job, but was afraid to report it b/c he would get a “stiff talking to” or suspension; all the linemen who were called 2 or 3 times on a night/weekend and had to go in to work or face suspension!  This was/is appalling and unbelievable but it did happen, along with other atrocities and mayhem.  What right did FE have to do this?  They had no right to do this to anyone.  We should have ‘evened the score then’, when FE stepped in and first started this frenzy and sadism, in my humble opinion!   If FE could be that cruel to their own employees, FE would/could have no trouble in raising the cost of health care for future retirees by 400 percent, before eliminating retiree health care coverage completely!  This is why my husband had to retire - b/c of health coverage.  How could anyone on JCP&LCo. Pensions afford these increases in health costs in their retirement?  My husband is sick over the decision to retire - he wanted to work another six years; and, I am horror-struck, disgusted and heartbroken that the company that I thought was so great and would take care of their own - has left everyone broken.  .. I applaud the moral fiber of the union men/women - that stay firm with their decision on their strike vote. 

With all my due respect,

          -Former Local 1309 Shop Stewart

January 21, 2005

Thank You All.. 

          -Luke Sciallo
          -LU.1289 IBEW   


January 21, 2005

Thanks for your support. WE will stay strong and together.



January 21, 2005

I am one of those freezing out there.  This editorial has given myself and I am sure many others hope. There are many union workers crossing our lines, and it is very disheartening to see. We are winning our fight and as of today converted our strike to an ULP strike.  We will win. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, and your brothers and sisters for your support.



January 21, 2005

As one of the striking workers, I just want to say Thank You. I do not believe that I am "On the line" where you are...but some of the "locals" that pass by my line are doing exactly what you have said. They are sneaking a wave...tooting the horn. It is much appreciated.

          -In Solidarity
          -A JCP&L Employee


January 21, 2005

Dear Officer, 

Thank you for showing you care about the linemen & their families.  My husband left for work in another state before Christmas & is still away. We hope he returns soon. Stay safe out there patrolling. I will keep you & yours in my prayers.



January 21, 2005

From a JCP&L striking employee, we appreciate your thoughts and efforts very much.  I have a degree in Criminal Justice and was a licensed Private Detective in NJ for several years.  Unfortunately, being in retail, I became unemployed through an acquisition.  I'm too old to join law enforcement and there isn't anything available for me in my field at this time.  So I joined JCP&L in September to work rather then finish collecting my Unemployment claim.  Shortly after joining this union, we went on strike.  First Energy is preventing us from collecting Unemployment Insurance and believe it or not the State of NJ won't even let me re-open my old claim from my previous employer even though my claim is still available through April.

I feel even more for those employees who have worked for JCP&L for years and years.  They paid into UI without ever collecting a cent.  Now that they are truly unemployed by every definition of the word, they are being denied benefits.  High powered and paid First Energy Attorneys have the ear of our Dept of Labor.   

If you want to help us, please contact our local, state and federal politicians and tell them that we should be able to collect unemployment insurance.  If we were collecting UI benefits, First Energy would sit down and settle this strike quickly.  But for now, they are trying to break our union and starve us out.  Thanks for your support.

          -John Prudhomme
          -Local 1289


January 21, 2005

As a member of the striking workers of JCP&L I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This letter shows me that we are not alone in this and that the BOYS IN BLUE care. Thank you again.

          -Mike Duda
          -Union Beach Line Local 1303