As we all know, Utility Workers in the state of Ohio face increasing risk of assault, intimidation, and threats of bodily harm with each passing day. Utility Workers are often First Responders; running into unsafe situations with airborne natural gas, unsafe electrical lines, or ruptured water lines in every community we serve at all hours of the day or night. Ohio House Bill 276, which is before the Senate Judiciary Committee would increase penalties to those who would commit crimes against Utility Workers Performing their duties. Utility Workers deserve to be SAFE while we are working to keep our communities safe by providing them with safe & reliable utilities; we believe that HB 276 is a step in that direction. Please ask the Ohio Senate to support Utility Workers in their efforts to stay safe while working in our communities.
Please contact the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee (HERE) and tell them we deserve to be safe while we provide safe, reliable natural gas to the communities in which we live and serve!
If the link will not allow you to send an email, please send emails to the following members by copying the body of the email that we included below and pasting it into the following contact pages:
Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman, Kevin Bacon: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/bacon/contact
Vice-Chair, Matt Dolan: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/dolan/contact
Ranking Minority Member, Cecil Thomas: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/thomas/contact
Senator Coley: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/coley/contact
Senator Eklund: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/eklund/contact
Senator Huffman: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/huffman/contact
Senator Lehner: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/lehner/contact
Senator O’Brien: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/obrien/contact
Senator Oelslager: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/oelslager/contact
Senator Skindell: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/skindell/contact
Senate President, Larry Obhof: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/obhof/contact
President Pro Tem, Bob Peterson: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/peterson/contact
Minority Leader, Kenny Yuko: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/yuko/contact
COPY THE TEXT BELOW:
I am writing to ask your support for HB276, the utility worker protection bill, that is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I work for Dominion Energy Ohio and I’m a proud member of Local G-555 and, along with my 1100 union brothers and sisters, support increasing penalties on people who threaten us while we perform our jobs. Natural gas workers are in many cases first responders who are required to go into every community we serve at all hours of the day and night. We deserve to be safe and HB276 is an important step in that direction. I’ve attached the testimony from Paul Talboo who discussed these issues in front of the Judiciary Committee back in May. Please support G-555 workers and vote YES on HB276.
Paul Talboo, Executive Treasurer of Gas Workers Union Local G-555 to the Senate Judiciary on May 15, 2018…
“Chairman Bacon, Vice-Chairman Dolan, Ranking Member Thomas and Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, my name is Paul Talboo and I work for Dominion Energy Ohio as an Engineering Technician and serve as the Executive Treasurer of Gas Workers Union Local G-555 of the Utility Workers Union of America. Dominion Energy Ohio is a natural gas utility in Ohio headquartered in Cleveland serving 1.2 million natural gas customers. We have approximately 1500 employees who work in the state of Ohio; approximately 1160 of those employees are represented by Local G-555
I am here today as a proponent of HB 276. In recent years, we have seen our employees in the field increasingly face menacing, threats and even violence while they are performing the duties of their job. Dominion is a 24 hour a day / 7 days a week operation, which requires our men and women to work all hours of the day or night in every neighborhood we serve.
In the last few years we continue to see a rise in incidents involving utility workers. If I may, I’d like to share some of those with you now:
• On July 18, 2017, while working on a pipeline replacement job in the City of Cleveland, a Dominion crew was involved in a drive-by shooting where one of Dominion’s traffic control contractors was struck in the leg with a bullet. Luckily the young man survived and no other employees were injured.
• Early in 2017, two employees in our Gas Measurement & Regulation Department were involved in a terrifying armed robbery. One of our female employees, while maintaining a pressure station, was approached by person with a gun. The assailant made lewd comments to her and proceeded to steal her Company vehicle. A second employee parked a few hundred feet away, while doing paperwork, was startled as the door to his truck was flung open and the barrel of a pistol was placed to the side of his head. The gunman demanded his wallet and cell phone and was basically told that he was going to die today.
• Last year we had a Customer Servicemen in the basement of a multi-unit rental property held at gunpoint for turning off a unit for non-payment. This, unfortunately is not uncommon for these men and women. Each year there are multiple incidents involving service men and women being held within the homes of angry customers, either with weapons, threats of violence, or physical intimidation
• Each year there are incidents of our men and women being mugged on duty, many in broad daylight.
• Every day my members are subjected to threats as they perform their normal duties; threatened with violence if we step foot onto their property, met at the customer’s doors with weapons; held inside of homes against their will; harassed by passersby. We have been shot at. We have been assaulted. We have had our lives threatened.
I’m not here to suggest that a utility worker’s life is more important than anyone else’s, but I ask you to appreciate that our men and women are first responders. When there is an emergency, no matter where or when, our men and women respond immediately; all utility workers do. Whether there is blowing gas, downed power lines, or ruptured water lines, utility workers respond in order to protect the lives and property of the people and communities we serve. We go into places alone, that many choose not to, at all hours of the night to do a job that won’t wait for the relative safety of daylight. Our work makes us vulnerable; whether our heads are down as we work in a ditch, are inside of the home of a stranger, or are up on a utility pole with no means of escape.
Our men and women and all utility workers should feel safe while we serve the communities of this great state. In these times we are living in, people are becoming increasingly desperate. It is my belief that increasing the penalty for those who threaten utility workers could serve as a deterrent and may make someone think twice before they act. If this bill can save the life of one of the men or women I serve alongside or prevent the mental and physical harm that these incidents can cause for them, it will have done its job.”